Thursday, June 07, 2012

Texas pays to train prisoner for job the state then won't let him have

The Austin Statesman's Eric Dexheimer has an item about an ex-TDCJ prisoner who was trained while in prison as a barber on the taxpayers dime but was then turned down for licensing ("State government giveth, then taketh away," June 6). Asked Dexheimer, "Why would one branch of the state government buy a citizen something with public money only to then to have another branch take it away a few months later?" Why, indeed!
in an unusually eloquent presentation to Department of Licensing and Regulation commissioners, [Lynn] Mays noted that the cost of barber training wasn’t the only bill citizens had footed on his behalf:

“When I was incarcerated, I was in a correctional facility that was run by the state of Texas. Taxpayer money paid for programs that are called rehabilitation programs, therapeutic programs, that I successfully went through…I’m not here because I’ve broken the law; I’m here because I want to work. I’m asking for a chance to prove the system works.”
They denied him, anyway. The reason:
“Barbers have direct contact with members of the general public, often in settings with no one else present, and a person with a predisposition for crimes involving prohibited sexual conduct would have the opportunity to engage in further similar conduct.”

Mays, agency staff concluded, had not been out of prison enough time to demonstrate that he’d been rehabilitated.
Ironically, at the events Grits attended this week on forensic science, a frequent refrain lamenting the lack of qualifications in certain fields was that people are required to be licensed to cut hair but need no particular certification to perform most forensic analyses with the notable exception of DNA testing. Perhaps Mr. Mays should pursue a job at a crime lab?

MORE: From Texas Watchdog.


sunray's wench said...

Was the guy on the sex offender's register? If not, then the licensing board have no grounds for thinking that he might abuse one of his customers. Can you sue for defamation of character in Texas?

Anonymous said...

Pretty ridiculous. Barbering is one of the classic jobs for those recently released from prison. At most, for child-sex-offenders, there should be a no-contact-with-children requirement, and a requirement that the parole officer visit the workplace to make sure the employer knows about the conviction and is imposing appropriate oversight.

Prison Doc said...

This is the sort of crap that drives me crazy. I'm always running into young offenders who've learned a skill like barbering, chef work, air conditioner repair who are all excited and starry-eyed about how their new trade is going to enable them to make money, support their families, and stay straight. I know that such will not likely be the case because the deck is stacked against them.

I did not know about the sex offender--barbering connection. I had heard of barber licenses being denied because a barber shop was a quiet and secure location for delivering drugs! Oh well, if they can't screw you one way, I guess they can get you another.

Morally I have an increasingly hard time working in this system.

MaxM said...

I'd like to see those interested in reducing the size of government focus on unneeded licensing and regulatory agencies. Do we really need the State saying who can cannot cut hair? If it's about health and safety, shouldn't that fall to local Heath Inspectors instead of a job killing licensing entity? As to concerns about being a sex offender or offender in general, what training do these licensing agents receive that makes them experts on recitivism?

Suzanne said...

Too many trades have licensing regulations that deny jobs to ex-felons and not just sex offenders.

Why bother teaching these trades if there are no jobs available to the graduates?

sunray's wench said...

Suzanne ~ the idea would be that you teach the inmate a trade so that they can start their own business upon their release, and maybe even employ someone else after a while. Graduates have that same option to start their own business.

Keep voting the people who make these ridiculous rules into office and nothing will change.

Anonymous said...

More than likely, ex-prisoner's have learned a thing or two about the law and ethics while doing their hard time.

There's no room for that in a crime lab.

Anonymous said...

We live in a world where they preach love and forgiveness on Sunday's in church but come Monday morning no one is practices it.

Anonymous said...

What's really amazing about it all is there is this advocacy for re-entry and on the face of it it looks great. Practically, it would appear that it's business as usual. Talk the talk without any action to aid the ex-offender in the transition back into society.

It's truly amazing. The ex-offender is forgiven by other nationals quicker than they are by the American citizen. Such hypocrits.

Anonymous said...

Should any trades have licensing regulations that deny jobs to registered sex offenders? If so, which trades?