Returning offenders need gainful employment in order to reintegrate and take personal responsibility.
Texas has 168 state laws that forbid felons from obtaining jobs. Texas law also designates over 2000 individual offenses as felonies, which results in a huge felon population in Texas. In fact, approximately 1 in 11 Texas adults have a felony conviction on his or her record. These people must find jobs and housing or risk returning to illegal activity to survive.
What does the bill do?
House Bill 70, by Representative Ryan Guillen, would allow for the provisional licensure of individuals convicted of misdemeanors or non-violent, non-sex-related felonies. The bill would not allow crimes older than 5 years to count against an individual’s eligibility for professional licenses, and it would allow those with a recent criminal history to be granted a 6-month temporary license on the condition that they not break laws or administrative rules and not be revoked from parole or probation. Successful completion of the provisionary period would result in the granting of a full license, while failure to comply would result in disqualification of the license.
Licensing requirements apply to a wide range of jobs that should be available to qualified ex-offenders.
Licensing requirements apply to a significant number of occupations, including cosmetologist, manicurist, air conditioning and refrigeration contractors, electricians, water well drillers, and many others.
This list is not complete, but it does reveal the array of options arbitrarily excluded from ex-offenders. By expanding the range of possible vocations, the State can encourage these individuals to support themselves by applying their particular skill sets, thereby reducing the likelihood that they will remain unemployed or return to crime.
H.B. 70 would assist reformed Texans in becoming contributing members of society
By allowing ex-offenders to obtain provisional licenses for which they are otherwise qualified, Texas can help returning offenders obtain gainful employment, which will facilitate their reintegration into our communities and allow them to take personal responsibility for their actions.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Guillen bill would reduce licensure barriers for many former felons
Ana Correa from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition points out another good re-entry related bill authored by last session's House Appropriations Vice-Chairman Ryan Guillen, HB 70, described thusly in a TDCJ fact sheet she sent me (not online):