Punishment After Prison

How Outdated State Regulations Are Preventing the Formerly Incarcerated from Re-entering the Labor Force

“If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime” is a well-worn criminal justice cliche. Yet in many U.S. states, doing the time is only part of the challenge those convicted of felonies face. That’s because the repercussions of a criminal conviction extend far beyond the walls of a prison, and often make it difficult for the newly released to succeed on their own terms.

The Washington Post published a compelling feature story on this very issue on Sept. 3, detailing the challenges faced by a man named Meko Lincoln. Lincoln, a 46-year-old Rhode Island resident, has struggled with addition and has a lengthy criminal history. Yet he has also made significant strides not only toward improving his own life, but also helping others in the same situation.

Lincoln is sober, gainfully employed and training to become a chemical dependency clinician. He’s only a few classes short of his first college degree. However, his prospects at achieving his goal are clouded by one stubborn fact: Rhode Island, like many states, has stringent restrictions governing who can qualify for professional licensing.

Licensing boards in Rhode Island can deny licenses for past criminal behavior — even stretching back decades — without considering mitigating factors or efforts toward rehabilitation. This means that someone could commit a crime as a teenager, go on to live a productive life for 20 or 30 years, and still be unable to secure an occupational license.

According to the Washington Post, the rules governing licensing in many states are often arbitrary and ambiguous, leaving those seeking a licensed profession with little recourse.

The Effects of Restricted Licensing

Licensing boards control access to employment in fast-growing and relatively high-paying industries such as health care and mechanical trades. Licensing boards also control access to jobs in the counseling and human services sectors — an area to which those who have struggled with drug and alcohol dependency often gravitate.

Like Meko Jackson, many people with criminal histories and past addiction issues have an intense desire to help others in the same situation recover. They also believe they are especially well-positioned to offer that help, given their past experiences.

Without a professional license, however, these people are typically limited to low-level employment in the industry. Instead of working as a full-fledged clinician, they are permanently relegated to the respected — but significantly more underpaid — position of peer counselor.

Easing Lifetime Stigma

These licensing restrictions are one more challenge in addition to the other difficulties ex-prisoners face. Most face significant societal stigma and have a difficult time securing well-paying employment. A criminal conviction, under these circumstances, becomes a stain that does not wash away, regardless of how long ago the conviction occurred or how well the person has done in the intervening years.

An attempt by legislators in Rhode Island to make licensing requirements more forgiving and flexible toward former prisoners failed to pass the state’s General Assembly, after an amendment was attached that would have excluded violent offenders. Legislators told the Washington Post they plan to revive the bill this fall.

A dozen other states have introduced modest licensing reforms, allowing those with a conviction to secure licensing provided that their crime wasn’t related to the occupation they’re seeking.

For people like Meko Jackson, however, the wait for opportunity remains.

Finding the Right Criminal Law Attorney

At Goldstein Law, we’re committed to fighting for the rights of the accused and the convicted. Call us for a consultation if you need assistance.

Los Angeles County is Incarcerating Thousands of Mentally Ill Homeless People. A New Study Offers a Solution.

Criminalization of homelessness is an ongoing problem in large American cities, according to recent research. Many of these cities have passed ordinances that outlaw camping, sleeping in public areas, living in vehicles and even sitting or lying down in certain places (such as bus stops). Continue reading “Los Angeles County is Incarcerating Thousands of Mentally Ill Homeless People. A New Study Offers a Solution.”

2 Plead Not Guilty to Kidnapping in Northridge

Dustin Summers and Daniel Martinez pleaded not guilty in the downtown Los Angeles courtroom to charges of kidnapping a 10-year-old girl from her bedroom in Northridge.

Los Angeles County prosecutors said Summers kidnapped the victim at knife-point after a home-invasion robbery. After he removed her from the home, he is accused of sexually assaulting her at numerous locations across the San Fernando Valley. He later dropped her off on a street in Woodland Hills. She was discovered several hours later with several injuries. Continue reading “2 Plead Not Guilty to Kidnapping in Northridge”

12 Arrested in ATM Card Skimming Scheme in Los Angeles

In the Los Angeles Federal United States District Court, twelve people who are part of an organized criminal group who operate in the southern California area were indicted for their participation an ATM skimming conspiracy. They caused the loss of thousands of dollars for banks and customers. The federal criminal complaint charged them with conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Continue reading “12 Arrested in ATM Card Skimming Scheme in Los Angeles”

Gallup Poll Shows Public Support for Marijuana Legalization Growing

Public opinion appears to be turning in favor of the legalization of marijuana. According to a new Gallup poll, a record number of Americans favor the legalization. The poll concluded that 58 percent support and only 39 percent oppose.

One year ago, the same poll concluded that 48 percent favored marijuana legalization, while 50 percent opposed. Ten years ago, the poll showed that just 31 percent favored legalization of marijuana, while 64 percent opposed it. Continue reading “Gallup Poll Shows Public Support for Marijuana Legalization Growing”

22 Arrested in LAPD Van Nuys Prostitution Sting

Los Angeles Police Department’s vice unit conducted a prostitution sting in Van Nuys which resulted in the arrest of 9 men and 13 women. The arrest took place along a 5 mile section on Sepulveda Boulevard, between Raymer Street and Ventura Boulevard.

According to officers at the scene, during the 4 hour sex crime sting, police made arrest for solicitation of prostitution, lewd conduct , loitering for the purposes of prostitution, and possession of methamphetamine. Continue reading “22 Arrested in LAPD Van Nuys Prostitution Sting”

Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Targeting Marijuana Dispensaries

The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office announced they are not just targeting marijuana dispensaries, but also property owners for their enforcement of Proposition D, which is a measure approved by voters that would limit the number of legal marijuana shops.

They said if they locate property owners who are in violation of Proposition D, they would be facing misdemeanor criminal charges and could receive a penalty of a $1,000 fine or six months in the county jail. Continue reading “Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Targeting Marijuana Dispensaries”

Police Arrest Sherman Oaks Arson Suspect

The Los Angeles Police Department said an unidentified man is in custody after police had reason to believe he may be responsible for setting a series of suspicious fires on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks.

They detained the suspect after officers noticed he matched the description of a man witnesses had seen close to the scene of several fires that had been started along eight blocks of Ventura Blvd during a period of one hour. Since police did not yet have enough evidence to charge him with arson, he was arrested for an outstanding warrant for a parole violation. Continue reading “Police Arrest Sherman Oaks Arson Suspect”

Former Encino Cosmetic Surgeon Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter

In the Van Nuys Superior Court, a former Encino cosmetic surgeon, Ehab Mohamed, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. The criminal charges are related to the death of his patient in 2010. He is accused of giving the patient a toxic cocktail of drugs during a liposuction surgery.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said he will be arraigned in the Van Nuys court in for the death of Sharon Carpenter. He is also facing charges of elder abuse related to another patient. Continue reading “Former Encino Cosmetic Surgeon Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter”

Doctor in West Hollywood Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking Prescription Pills

James Eisenberg, a medical doctor who has an office in West Hollywood has pleaded guilty to federal drug trafficking charges. He was accused of unlawfully writing numerous prescriptions for controlled substances after his physician’s registration was revoked, which suspended his ability to prescribe drugs.

He entered his guilty plea in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. He was charged with distribution of hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin. Continue reading “Doctor in West Hollywood Pleads Guilty to Drug Trafficking Prescription Pills”

2 Men Arrested for iPhone Robbery in Panorama City

Levon Iskandaryan and Mambreh Khachian were booked and charged with armed robbery and remain in custody on a $125,000 bail. LAPD said they are still seeking a third suspect who was the driver of the car.

The two men were arrested for robbery after meeting a man who had posted an ad on Craigslist offering some items for sale. The robbery occurred in the McDonald’s parking lot on Van Nuys Boulevard in Panorama City.

Continue reading “2 Men Arrested for iPhone Robbery in Panorama City”

Judge Orders Trial in Northridge Murder Case

A San Fernando Superior Court judge has ordered a trial for Ka Pasasouk, who is accused of murder of four people at a Northridge boardinghouse in December 2012. The judge made his decision after he heard the testimony of witnesses during a preliminary hearing. The defendant has been charged with murder after shooting two women and two men in in front an unlicensed boarding house on Devonshire Street. Continue reading “Judge Orders Trial in Northridge Murder Case”

Guilty Plea for Federal Computer Fraud Charges

A Glendale California man, Gary Kazaryan, who was facing accusations that he hacked into numerous Facebook and Skype email accounts and then coerced women to strip their clothes for him has plead guilty to federal computer fraud charges.

He admitted in court that he hacked into Internet accounts with personal information and used either nude or semi-nude photos of other women to coerce female victims to show him their body. Normally, this would occur over Skype. Continue reading “Guilty Plea for Federal Computer Fraud Charges”

Former LA Sheriff’s Sergeant Arrested for Grand Theft and Embezzlement

A former Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant, Bonnie Bryant, is a 28-year veteran of the department and a was a narcotics task force supervisor. He has been arrested and accused of stealing cash during a sting operation. He has plead not guilty to charges of grand theft and embezzlement.

He has been charged with one felony count of grand theft of personal property and another felony count of embezzlement by a public officer. He is also been charged with a misdemeanor crime of petty theft and a special criminal allegation that he carrying a gun during the commission of a crime. Continue reading “Former LA Sheriff’s Sergeant Arrested for Grand Theft and Embezzlement”

Two LAPD Officers Sentenced for Conspiracy and Perjury in Drug Crime Case

The criminal defense lawyer who represented a man that claimed two Los Angeles police officers lied about his drug crime arrest and attempted to frame him was not happy about the judge’s decision to not sentence the officers to jail time. The two officers were found guilty of perjury and conspiracy to obstruct justice by a jury for their role in a 2008 drug related case. Continue reading “Two LAPD Officers Sentenced for Conspiracy and Perjury in Drug Crime Case”

Orange County Man Sentenced to 363 Years for Rape

An Orange County, California man, Juan Humberto Avila, has been sentenced to 363 years to life in prison for raping a 16-year-old girl. The sexual assault occurred while she was walking home in the early morning hours in 2008. prosecutors said.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office said the 36-year-old man was convicted by a jury in March, 2013, for numerous felony sexual related charges along with dissuading a witness by force or threat. Continue reading “Orange County Man Sentenced to 363 Years for Rape”

San Fernando Valley Doctor Sentenced to Federal Prison for Health Care Fraud

A San Fernando Valley doctor, Pezhman Ebrahimzadeh, who is the owner of a cosmetic medicine clinic in the Winnetka district was sentenced to over three years in federal prison for receiving more than $3 million from Medicare by submitting fraudulent bills for medical procedures he never performed.

He was sentenced in the United States Federal District Court in Los Angeles. He was also ordered to pay restitution to the Medicare program of over $3.1 million. Continue reading “San Fernando Valley Doctor Sentenced to Federal Prison for Health Care Fraud”

A Convicted Drug Dealer Secretly Owned 9 Marijuana Stores

Nine marijuana dispensaries around Los Angeles and Orange County were set up to appear to be operated by different owners. However, they were secretly owned by a convicted drug-dealer who used the stores to make millions.

John Melvin Walker, who operated the marijuana stores, is expected to plead guilty to drug and tax evasion charges after his arrest in October, 2012. Continue reading “A Convicted Drug Dealer Secretly Owned 9 Marijuana Stores”