JLUSA leader Ashley Goldon says: “Don’t forget those who can’t get a clean slate”
June 3, 2023
“For adults living in Michigan with a criminal history, most of whom are parents and grandparents, recently passed Clean Slate legislation means not having to worry about who will give them the opportunity to feed and house their families.
“For the rest of us who are ineligible, however, we continue to quietly suffer in endless pursuit of meeting our most basic of needs.
“Take myself, for instance. I was sentenced to three years in the Michigan Department of Corrections as a young person. Almost a decade post release, after earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a dean’s scholarship to the University of Southern California for graduate school, and years of being the first to arrive and the last to leave work, I made it to management, overseeing therapeutic programming for hundreds of youth at one of the largest child welfare facilities in Southeast Michigan. Having a successful career, a decent credit score and coming so far from the mistakes of my youth, I was ready to get my own place.
“I found a house for lease close to my aging grandmother and decided to apply. I had been denied previously, but that was when I had first come home. I was light years away from that. I had taken accountability, served my time and redeemed myself through years of service, advocacy and academic excellence.
“I toured the home with the property manager and was completely upfront about my record. She assured me exceptions were made for circumstances like mine. After bouts of transient homelessness and moving nine times in nine years relying on friends and family for housing, I was relieved to finally be obtaining my own shelter.
“A short time later, I received an email stating I had been denied. I felt hopeless. I had done everything right. How could this be? …
“Unfortunately, this is not uncommon for adults who have convictions on their record that carry up to a life sentence.”
Watch the livestream of the JustLeadershipUSA Ninth Annual Benefit Gala from New York City, where Ashley received a 2023 Leading with Conviction™ Award! Get free access now.