Summer Benefit Features: RYSE Youth Center

Our upcoming Summer Benefit is a great opportunity to celebrate our community and the missions of other organizations in the area. We are so excited to remind you all that our July 23rd event this year will feature a spoken word piece performance by Richmond’s RYSE Youth Center group.

RYSE was founded in 2000 in Richmond with the goals of fostering a strong and safe community where youth can lead and thrive within a united community. We are thrilled to be featuring an organization at our event that has a shared concern for the future of youth and community members. The RYSE center provides community resources for youth including career counseling, arts and culture opportunities, health and wellness education, and social justice focused youth organizing to name a few. RYSE has a worthwhile and inspiring mission to “educate and motivate, inform and empower, connect and uplift, advocate and celebrate” young professionals, while working toward social equality and justice as it relates to community empowerment.

The RYSE Performing Arts department is an example of the ways in which they “promote young people’s innovative creation of political, personal, and expressive” strengths to give youth in the community a strong voice. The spoken word workshop helps students use language as expressions of social issues. We are thrilled about this inspiring performance this year from RYSE. In addition, we will also have a musical guest to be announced soon!

This collaboration between RYSE and Root & Rebound is very special because the pieces being performed will be about issues of incarceration, community empowerment, and themes surrounding opportunity and community vitality. There is a synergy between the issues RYSE and Root & Rebound are working on, and it is wonderful to collaborate and share in the successes and efforts of each other’s work.

To learn more about RYSE and their goals and accomplishments, check out their website at 

Join us July 23! Buy tickets here:

Summer Benefit Features: Bay Area Breweries & Wineries

We are excited to announce some updates about our upcoming Summer Benefit on July 23!

We are thrilled to be featuring several local Bay Area breweries at our event! We love local business and community partners, and appreciate all the support. We want to feature a few of the local breweries and wineries generously providing alcohol for our event!

DasBrew is a Fremont based neighborhood brewery that specializes in quality German-style beer with an American finish. We are also excited about Independent Brewing Company, which is a local Oakland business just like us! Joining us from across the bay, we are excited to have beer from Magnolia Pub & Brewery from San Francisco. Based in Petaluma, we will also be featuring the well-known Lagunitas Brewing Company! In addition to all the great beer we will have, we are also featuring the fine wine of Tenuta Winery from Livermore. These are just a select few, and we will be featuring several more awesome products.

We could not put on such a great event without our wonderful donors, and we are so grateful to have such supportive community sponsors to help make our event incredible! Local breweries and wineries are part of the Bay Area’s character, and we hope you come join us to try some for yourself! To buy tickets and experience these awesome beers for yourself, visit


Formerly Incarcerated Peoples’ Advocacy Day


Our friends at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC) and All of Us or None are organizing an Advocacy Day in Sacramento! Here is their call to action:

“Formerly-incarcerated people, family members, and community leaders have organized a statewide advocacy day in Sacramento, which we named Quest for Democracy. This year will be the 4th Annual Quest for Democracy Day (Q4DD). We gather to show support or opposition for pending legislation that affects the lives of people impacted by incarceration. We also take this space to assert ourselves as leaders, experts, and contributing members of our communities in a place where we are normally invisible and silenced.
 This advocacy day is an opportunity for formerly-incarcerated people, our families, and allies to talk directly with legislators about the issues that concern us most. To prepare for the day, we have scheduled grassroots policy trainings, to introduce people to the legislative process and to learn to present our stories and concerns effectively. In the Bay Area, these trainings will be held at the offices of CURYJ (Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice), 2289 International Blvd., Oakland, CA 94606:
Thursday, April 28th, 5-8 pm
Saturday, April 30th, 1-5 pm
Saturday, May 7th, 1-5 pm
(for information about policy trainings in Southern California, please call Vonya Quarles 562-618-3940)
We are asking all social justice organizations, particularly those with members who have been incarcerated, to join us on May 9, 2016.
Please register for this event so we know how many people will be attending. Registration is FREE:
Transportation and food will be provided. For information, please call 415-625-7051 or 415-625-7042

Family Reentry Readiness Toolkits Community Convenings


Thanks to the generous support of the Zellerbach Family Foundation, Root & Rebound is in the initial stages of developing a Family Reentry Readiness Toolkit so that individuals who are currently incarcerated and planning for release can work alongside their family members and loved ones to understand, plan for, and navigate the reentry process. We are very excited about beginning this new project!

Referring to our Roadmap to Reentry Guide, the toolkit will include a set of concrete tools to help incarcerated individuals and their loved ones understand the roles, challenges and limitations each will encounter as they plan together for reentry. Individuals and families who are navigating and have navigated reentry are the preeminent reentry experts, and we plan to design the toolkits with you in mind, using your knowledge and experiences as the foundation.

We want to know:

  • What helped and didn’t help as you or your loved one navigated release?
  • What is the best way for family members to provide support pre-release, in order to help set their loved ones up for success post-release?
  • As a family member with an incarcerated loved one, what information or tools do you wish you had to help your family member prepare for release?

To discuss these issues, as well as others that affect families navigating reentry, we are holding 2 focus groups:

1) Monday, May 2nd from 5-7pm for individuals who have been through reentry.

2) Wednesday, May 4th from 5-7pm for family members with currently or formerly incarcerated loved ones.

Both events will be held at Root & Rebound’s office at 1730 Franklin St., Suite 300, in  Oakland. Dinner, beverages and a modest travel stipend will be provided to thank you for your participation.

Please RSVP here:

If you have any questions, please email us at





Certificates of Rehabilitation Workshop & Clinic

COR FlyerAre you or someone you know interested in applying for a Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR)? Want to learn more about what a COR is and more about the COR application process? Want help preparing a COR application?

Join the reentry attorneys at Root & Rebound, a reentry legal education and advocacy center, to learn more about CORs and sign up for our COR info session & clinic if you qualify for one at this time!

In California, the Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR) is a powerful but underutilized legal tool for people who served time in state prison for a past conviction to prove their successful rehabilitation after years of success back in society. CORs help restore some of the civil rights and opportunities that individuals with criminal records are stripped of, and applicants have the right under law to FREE legal representation by a public defender in the county where they reside (not the county where the conviction happened).

In collaboration with Project Rebound at SFSU, ROOT & REBOUND is hosting a COR workshop to educate people interested in CORs and help people who are eligible prepare their COR applications at its COR clinic! See below for details. We’ve also attached a FLYER that you can post or share with your networks!




Root & Rebound will host 2 informational sessions to educate people about the requirements to apply for a COR in California; the overall process; and the potential benefits. Through the info sessions, you can decide for yourself if you would like to proceed with the COR clinic and apply for a COR at this time.

The two informational sessions will be held on:

  • Thursday, May 5th from 10AM-12PM (morning), OR
  • Thursday, May 5th from 5PM-7PM (evening).

LOCATION: Root & Rebound, 1730 Franklin Street, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94612 (close to the 19th St.-Oakland BART station)

CLICK HERE TO RSVP. RSVPs will be capped, so sign up as soon as possible! Email or call us if you want to attend the clinic, but CANNOT make it to EITHER info session.

> PART 2: IF YOU QUALIFY FOR COR AT THIS POINT IN TIME (which you will learn about at workshop!), REGISTER FOR COR CLINIC on WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th:

The COR clinic will be staffed with the Root & Rebound attorney and legal team to help eligible applicants prepare their COR application materials for court in a 1-on-1 setting at Root & Rebound’s office.

The COR clinic will be hosted at Root & Rebound on:

  • Wednesday, May 25th from 1PM – 6PM.

LOCATION: Root & Rebound, 1730 Franklin Street, Suite 300, Oakland, CA 94612 (close to the 19th St.-Oakland BART station)

RSVPs will be capped, so sign up as soon as possible! Email or call us if you want to attend the COR clinic, but cannot make it to our office on May 25th. We will likely hold future COR clinics, and are happy to keep you on our outreach list to tell you about future clinics.

If you haven’t already — CLICK HERE TO RSVP!

IMPORTANT!!TO PARTICIPATE IN THE COR CLINIC, and to get the best legal information and advice, you should FIRST REQUEST a copy of your RAP Sheet if you do not have one already!

Here are the instructions:

  • To get a Statewide RAP Sheet from the Department of Justice (DOJ):
      • STEP 1 – Fill out a “Request for Live Scan” form. For detailed instructions from the DOJ, click here.
      • STEP 2 – Get electronic fingerprinting (Live Scan)
        • Bring “Record Review – Request for Live Scan” form (SEE ATTACHED) to a Live Scan Provider to have your fingerprints taken. For a list of fingerprint locations, click here.
      • STEP 3 – You will receive your RAP sheet in the mail.
      • The DOJ charges $25.
      • The Live Scan (fingerprinting) provider usually charges $15-$30.
      • If you are currently receiving public assistance (including CalFresh/food stamps, SSI, unemployment, etc.), you can request a waiver of the $25 fee from the DOJ, but you will still have to pay the Lice Scan fee. Fee waivers delay the process, so start ASAP!
      • To Request a Fee Waiver: Send a cover sheet, fee waiver form and proof of public assistance (SEE ATTACHED PACKET) to the DOJ at the following address:

DOJ – Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information
Attention: Record Review Unit
P.O. Box 903417
Sacramento, CA 94201-4170

      • If you request a Fee Waiver, you will receive a “Request for Live Scan” form in the mail. Take this special form to the Live Scan provider for your fingerprinting (go back up to STEP 2)


QUESTIONS? Please email us at, or call us at 510-279-4662, and request to speak with Sonja or Kaly with any questions about the COR info sessions or clinic.

Look forward to working together to advance opportunities for people with records in California!

Thank you!

The Root & Rebound and Project Rebound teams!

Certificates of Rehabilitation

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By Lizzy Gilbert. 

Have you heard this statistic yet? One out of every three Americans has a criminal record.[1] As the Center for American Progress brilliantly noted in a 2014 report:

“Today, a criminal record serves as both a direct cause and consequence of poverty. It is a cause because having a criminal record can present obstacles to employment, housing, public assistance, education, family reunification, and more; convictions can result in monetary debts as well. It is a consequence due to the growing criminalization of poverty and homelessness. One recent study finds that our nation’s poverty rate would have dropped by 20 percent between 1980 and 2004 if not for mass incarceration and the subsequent criminal records that haunt people for years after they have paid their debt to society. Failure to address this link as part of a larger anti-poverty agenda risks missing a major piece of the puzzle.”[2]

As our country grapples with the implications of hypercriminalization, policymakers are starting to discuss ways they can ameliorate some of the 44,000 documented barriers and roadblocks that decades of their shortsighted “tough on crime” legislation have inflicted on us. Expungement, or the official sealing of a criminal record, is one option. Another, lesser known path, is a legal certification of rehabilitation. That’s what I’m here to discuss today.

Certificates of Rehabilitation (CORs), sometimes called Certificates of Good Standing or Employability, are currently offered in 14 states and Washington, D.C.[3] As is the case with expungement, the eligibility, application and value of CORs varies from state to state, but they are generally viewed as a legal stamp of approval from a judge or parole board, verifying that the grantee has proven themselves rehabilitated in the eyes of the law. CORs also generally give recipients a respite from automatic exclusion from certain licenses and professions.

In an effort to learn more about the various state certificate programs, we spent some time studying the California COR system and comparing it to the 13 other states that offer them.* As expected, we found great variety in how different states have chosen to write and implement their statutes. In some states, like Connecticut, individuals are eligible to apply for a COR as soon as they’re released from prison or jail. In others, people have to wait 10 years after release from any kind of supervision before they can apply. Some judicial relief programs look great on paper, but hold little value in practice. For example, Nevada’s Certificate of Good Standing appears promising: it removes a legal disability, or collateral consequence, that is inflicted as a result of a conviction (e.g. a ban from acquiring a particular license); it furnishes evidence of good moral character; and it provide official government recognition that the grantee is “rehabilitated.” Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, Nevada hasn’t issued a single Certificate of Good Standing in years.[4]

California’s COR program was written into law in 1943, but is also exceptionally underutilized. The application process, comparatively, is cumbersome, and the wait period is a minimum of 5 years after release from supervision (depending on conviction). But there are also some favorable components to California’s law: applicants are entitled to be represented by a public defender; if granted, it can relieve the individual from having to register as a sex offender; and it mandates that professional or business licensing cannot be denied solely based on conviction (without the COR, absolute denial is legal and ubiquitous).

Why is this information pertinent to us today? Because Root & Rebound, in partnership with Project Rebound at SFSU, is embarking on a dual public education/direct service campaign to expand the use, impact and value of Certificates of Rehabilitation in California. Our goal with this project is twofold: 1) to directly aid and educate those who are eligible to apply for CORs (as well as their advocates and attorneys) about the application process, the benefits of applying, and their right to be informed; and 2) to educate the public, including judges, attorneys, employers, licensing boards, and professionals, about the existence of CORs, their value, and their impact.

With this campaign, we hope to drastically increase the number of Californians who possess a COR, thus decreasing the number of our community members who are denied a license, a job, or an apartment based on their criminal conviction. We also want to ensure that their value is well understood by potential employers, landlords, and licensing boards; we want them to know that a COR is meaningful, that certificate holders have proven themselves rehabilitated in the eyes of the law—the same eyes that originally convicted them.

In the reentry space, we’re continually looking for a way to reduce the barriers people with criminal records encounter. California’s Certificate of Rehabilitation program is not perfect by any means, but we believe that it has the potential to transform peoples’ lives. Please stay tuned as we move forward with this exciting campaign!

*To share our findings from web research of the national landscape, we have shared the link to the table here and below (Table 1). This matrix is a quantitative evaluation of the 14 states that currently offer judicial certificate programs as relief mechanisms for convictions and criminal records.

Here is description of the measures used for evaluation:

  • Ease refers to the level of difficulty of the certificate application process, where 1= very difficult and 10= extremely easy, or automatic.
  • Wait period refers to the amount of time an individual must wait post-release (or post-sentence, in some states) before eligibility for the certificate begins, where 1= a long wait period (over 10 years) and 10= no wait period.
  • Accessibility refers to how available the certificate option is for individuals with criminal records in the state, where 1= very low accessibility (only nonviolent, first-time offenders are eligible) and 10= highly accessible (all individuals with a criminal record can apply).
  • Scope refers to what the certificate program aims to do or accomplish, where 1= a limited scope, for example an automatic presumption of rehabilitation for licensing with no enforcement mechanisms, and 10= a broad scope, for example a program that seeks to provide relief for an individual across a myriad of areas (employment, voting rights, housing).
  • Value refers to the extent to which the certification, if granted, improves the area in which it is intended to bring improvement, where 1= little to no value, and 10= the certificate is highly valuable and impactful.
  • Bonus refers to a specific component of a state’s certificate program that either increases or decreases program quality, for example the states that offer immunity to employers from negligent hiring lawsuits were given a bonus point, and Nevada lost a point because a certificate hasn’t been granted in the state for over a decade.

Although the matrix allows us to compare states side-by-side, it has its limitations. First, this evaluation tool does not measure the frequency with which certificates are granted, unless it is specifically indicated in the description. This information has been left out for most states because the information is unpublished, or at least not easily accessible.

Secondly, the matrix does not necessarily measure the overall quality of the certificate program because each state’s program has different stated goals, so direct comparison is bound to be flawed. For example, some states, like Ohio, have programs that offer relief only for very specific occupational licenses, while others, like California, seek to offer relief from collateral consequences that affect one’s life much more broadly.

A third limitation to the matrix is that, depending on the individual and his or her states’ program goals, it’s nearly impossible to arbitrarily assign a numeric score. For example, a long ‘wait time’ can sometimes be a positive program component, and sometimes a negative. Although excessively long wait times will disqualify a lot of people (many of whom would benefit from the certificate), the more time that has passed since an individual’s last conviction, the better and more substantiated proof there may be of rehabilitation. Programs that have very short wait times will, obviously, permit more people to apply, but by doing so may reduce the value of the certificate solely due to the fact that individuals don’t have to wait as long to apply for it. For these reasons, the matrix should be seen as one lens through which the 14 state programs can be compared, rather than a complete and definite ranking from ‘best’ to ‘worst.’

Table 1-Certificate of Rehabilitation State Assessment





Letter of the Day

This letter says it all. 

“To: Root & Rebound,

Good morning to you all. This letter is sent to you today to say thank you from my humble heart upon receiving a copy of your Roadmap to Reentry Legal Guide. I was totally surprised at the size of the guide, and then rocked back on my heels, at all of the good and direct, clear information, within the table of contents!!

This is exactly what each and every prisoner needs to have access to, so that he or she can have real answers or solutions to the many questions, and problems we are faced with, as we prepare to reenter of cities, towns, and the state. I will have to set aside a lot of my time to really sit down and go through all this massive amount of information.

This is truly a blessing for anyone to receive, and I just wanted to write you back, to let you know that I did receive it, but most importantly I’m very thankful, that you all thought so much for so many, when so many others could care less, if their returning citizens get a helping hand, a positive guide, on their long road of recovery, and fight to become a positive asset to his or her command to city, state.

Thanks, Seasons Greetings, and Happy New Year in 2016,

Humbly, with respect, a lifer with 24 years in and my next parole hearing on May 29th 2016!”