Ex-cons should not be denied entrance into state bar associations

[The Hill, Washington D.C.]

Another outstanding candidate was denied admission to the bar this past week because of an old criminal record. Reginald Dwayne Betts, an award-winning poet and memoirist and Yale Law School graduate who served time for a robbery conviction he incurred years ago as a juvenile, was denied admission to the bar of the State of Connecticut.

The same week, the ACLU of Washington, along with 48 additional organizations, 34 attorneys, and 20 law school faculty members filed an amici curiae brief on behalf of Tarra Simmons, a magna cum laude graduate of Seattle University School of Law who is appealing the Washington State Bar Association’s denial earlier this year of her application to take the bar exam. Simmons served time for drug crimes and was released from prison in 2013.

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There are a few parallels there that RCs could use in their fight provided this young lady wins her deal. Quite interesting that she chose to chase it anyway knowing possible the outcome could be she would be denied to sit for the bar exam. I would imagine others have done the same too knowing the potential denial. Of course, the closing point of them knowing the judicial system and correctional system well is key. If you keep them out and their knowledge, then supposedly cannot do any harm to what is in place. Let them in!

I went to law school following my conviction for possession of child pornography, and was denied the ability to take the bar exam by my state Supreme Court until I come off the registry.

It isn’t that I didn’t want my second chance. It’s that the powers that be do their damnedest to make it as elusive as possible. I’ve remarked to people that I think the “system” is set up in such a way as to perpetuate, not attenuate, crime. If you keep people locked in either physical or mental cages, and tell them all they’re ever going to be is a criminal, then you shouldn’t be shocked when you get a criminal.

And, maybe that’s just the way they want it to be.