There are many obstacles that former inmates face when they are released from prison. One of the biggest ones is securing employment after doing a bid. It is against many companies’ policies to hire former convicts. Seeing this plight, the state of Alabama has taken steps to make that part of returning citizens’ newfound freedom less strenuous and stressful.
Lawmakers in the “Yellowhammer State” have passed a law that aims to do away with the various barriers between newly freed inmates and jobs. According to ABC News, the law will stop occupational licensing boards from automatically denying applications based on the applicant’s criminal record:
Under the new law, if a former inmate is denied an occupational license, it allows that person convicted of a felony or misdemeanor to petition the court to review the matter. The court can then provide a certificate to the specific licensure board who would need to review the former inmate’s qualifications and make a detailed decision as to whether he or she should be licensed. The board would have the final say.
Democratic Tuscaloosa Representative Chris England spoke on the matter saying, “We found out that there would be occupations people would get training for and licensed for in prison and when they got out, there would be archaic barriers on the books that would keep them from doing the things that they were just trained to do.”
England added, “Anything that we can do to remove arbitrary barriers and regulations in order to make that easier is something we should do.”
Former Etowah County Circuit Judge David Kimberly pointed out that although convicted felons are taught cosmetology behind the wall, but cannot earn cosmetology licenses on the outside. He also remembered sending re-offenders back to prison as a judge. “The genesis of that a lot of times is not their lack of good intention when they first got out but the lack of opportunity,” said Kimberly. “If you stay employed, you have a tendency not to re-offend. You’re supporting your family. You’re paying your child support. You’re paying your taxes.”
The new law will take effect on September 1.