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):
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.


Anonymous said...

This is fine and good however unless they also re-write several statutes, there are other barriers that would stop this good intention.

Anonymous said...

Do you know if this would include notaries? I have been working for a company for 2 years now and they keep asking me when I am going to become a notary.

My 10 year probation is up in June and I am almost out of excuses as to why I haven't gone to get my notary bond. :(

I guess one day I may have to tell them, although on my job application they only asked if I had been convicted in the past 7 years. Hopefully they would be willing to understand but this is not the most open minded company.

Soronel Haetir said...

Cosmetics/manicurist/etc makes even less sense when you look at the fact that these are the exact training programs many prisons offer women. I don't know if that is true for TX but certainly is for other states. What good is it to train someone to do a job they are legally barred from?

Notary I'm not quite as certain on, I can see some valid arguements of societal trust there.

Anonymous said...

Most Texans have probably committed a crime and have no clue they did. Ever buy a car and have the finance guy at the dealership shove a completed credit application over the desk and tell you to sign it along with a pile of other papers? If there is anything that is not exactly right on that credit application you have committed a Federal felony crime even if you did not fill it out, you signed it. Ever sell something and then pay off the loan with all or part of the money you got for the item? If you did you committed Texas and Federal felonies most likely. My point is that there are many more un-convicted felons than 1 in 11 Texans. We have allowed our law makers to pander to the voters by making law after law that it counterproductive to society.

I doubt the bill will pass this year because the prison business will stand to lose millions in income from the tax payers of Texas. Crime and corrections is a big money business in Texas and the lobby will be out in force to defeat this or any bill like it unless you demand it from your legislator. Your demands might be ignored like the banker rescue the US Legislature passed even though 95% of the voters were dead against it.

Personally I am all for restoring people to society after they have paid for their mistakes. I hope it passes but I have little faith it will make this Legislature. If we had term limits in Texas Government we might see more sensible laws passed and a raft of bad ones done away with.

Anonymous said...

I am totally not getting this. The State of Texas says get a job as a condition of probation or parole, but when people runt he background checkand BOOM, there it is the conviction, so it's a back and forth thing, around in the circle and no where for them to get off. BUT, pay this fee each month, find a palce to live, take care of your kids, how are they going to dot hat if they can't get jobs or training or license. I unfderstand that there is even a statue that prevents felons from having bank accounts and voting, but here "go an become a productive member of society"...what a crock!

Anonymous said...

I do not understand why everyone is NOT getting this. Let's draw a picture....someone goes to jail, they do their time, they pay the fee, they pay the restitution...they get out. The sentence is complete. But then, employeers won't hire them because they are felons, they can't vote (for the same amount of time equal to their sentence - EVEN THOSE ON PROBATION) so, that's more time taken away from voting, working etc., So, how in the world does anyone think this is fair. Its like constant oppression. If a felon gets out, goes to school and does not violate any laws further - they attempt to go into a career - they should be entitled to regain their society status. It is earned. But currently, its constant discrimination based on actions and acts of hateful unforgiving people. This amounts to being resentenced and resentenced for the same crime over and over and over. Double jeopardy. I have seen much talent....if they work hard...they are entitled to obtain the same rights again.

Anonymous said...

If a bill is passed and there is nothing in place to make that bill work, then the written bill is not worth the paper it is written on!

If a bill written has no "balls" in it, then that bill only gives whomever writes the bill bragging rights and the ability to use it for their next election.

Legislators need to be held to their actions and make laws for those who do not follow bills written responsible and by a stiff measure. Bills should be written for the betterment of all and not just for bragging rights of some Senator or Representative.

Representative Guillen has written a very good bill, now whoever is elected Chairman of the House get this bill our of Committee and get it passed and to the Senate. Everyone is watching Mr. Perry and his future depends on he is acting and doing for the people of this great State. After watching him today insult Sarah Palin, I would say he needs to do something that does not make him more embarrassing than he already is!!!

Anonymous said...

A person is sent to prison to PAY BACK SOCIETY- -that is why prisons were set up in the first place.
Who on earth or anywhere said that a felon has to spend the REST of their lives paying back society?
Seems to me, our great society should pay THEM back for starting this "pay-back" deal in the first place. If I had a business I would hire a felon agaisnt one that wasn't in a heart beat- -they have a LOT more to loose by NOT working than the other.
America needs to wake up and GROW up! Ever heard about "casting the first stone"??
Do away with being hypocritical and you will have the godd ole America back- -
No, I am not a felon, actually I am a correctional officer and darn tired of seeing the same guys come back because they couldn't get a job- -real simple. And the great state of Texas wonders why our prisons are so over crowed- -how darn stupid! If one helps the felons, they have helped themselves- -YOUR tax dollars support prisons, duh!