At what point should an offender be punished and considered redeemed? Should someone who breaks even a serious law always be haunted by the error at every job site and at every stage in life? What should happen to those who are released and how can society be safe from them re-offending if they are not hired to work any place? As the Washington Examiner writes today, President Donald Trump is concerned with reintegration on a very honest level and the topic is getting debated heavily.
The state of Kansas is going to give some new ideas a test drive as “both Democratic and Republican members of the legislature have acknowledged a substantial obstacle to offender reentry:” the abovementioned inability to get hired upon release. No one wants a convicted thief, fake check-writer, or thug working for them, yet some offenders who have changed their stripes are paying for this fully warranted (though potentially harmful) concern.
So, Senate Bill 421 aims to address some of these worries by scaling back “the burdensome regulations ex-offenders face from occupational licensing boards.”
One of the things that may be driving much of this debate is that, in America today, almost anything can be illegal. Just the same, some crimes are loathsome and those who commit such acts have a good reason to be denied jobs.
This problem exists for 700,000 people in Kansas yet occupational boards are said to make it all but impossible for those released to get any job at all. Considering that many jails and prisons offer classes and that many prisoners even get degrees while locked up, this is a dilemma worthy of attention.
Forbes has found that about “roughly 30,000 licensing restrictions fall on those with criminal records” and thousands of regulations are attached as well. Ambiguous terms like “moral turpitude” make it so that hurdles can exist that defeat even those who are the most sincere about wanting to reform.
Bill 421 makes it so that a criminal record may not be the sole grounds for someone to be denied a job. The analogy is used that someone with a recent drug conviction should likely not be a pharmacist, but it is written that they could be allowed work as a barber, for instance.
This, though helpful, can be seen also as government meddling. Does Uncle Sam have the right to say what grounds someone can and can not get a job for? If not, then how are those who are released supposed to ever better themselves?
The new law would also make it so that boards are no longer permitted to deny “licenses for non-sexual, nonviolent crimes committed five or more years in the past.” Not only is this fair, but statistics convey that anyone who has gone that long without committing another crime is no more likely to do so than someone who never has.
Therefore, at what point has the debt to society been paid? This is a fair question and it does not have an easy answer. The matter is being addressed and hopefully helpful solutions come about.
As they do, perhaps a few things that are none of the governments business can all so be addressed.