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News State / Region Proposed law would help ex-cons stay out of trouble, AG Cooper says

Measure approved by legislative committee

A bill approved Wednesday by a House committee would help stop offenders from repeating their crimes by removing barriers that keep them from finding lawful jobs, Attorney General Roy Cooper said.

“Turning ex-offenders into productive citizens makes all of us safer,” Cooper said. “Too often, former offenders get derailed when they can’t find a way to earn a living. This bill will help by removing some of the obstacles once ex-offenders show that they can live responsibly.”

 

After offenders have served their time and returned to society, it can be difficult for them to find work. Under House Bill 641, certain ex-offenders could petition the court for a Certificate of Restoration of Rights, easing some of the barriers that can keep them from getting a job.

The certificate can help clear the way for people to get the occupational licenses necessary for certain kinds of work that does not put public safety at risk. The certificate would also serve as proof that the person is determined not to return to a life of crime.

The certificate can help clear the way for people to get the occupational licenses necessary for certain kinds of work that does not put public safety at risk. The certificate would also serve as proof that the person is determined not to return to a life of crime.

House Bill 641 won unanimous approval from the House Judiciary B Subcommittee and will go next to the full House. The bill is based on a consensus recommendation of the StreetSafe task force, an initiative to reduce the number of ex-offenders who commit crimes after their release from prison. Cooper co-chaired the task force along with Secretary of Correction Alvin Keller. The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association also backs the bill.

The legislation includes a number of conditions that an individual would have to meet before he or she could be granted a certificate. To be eligible under the proposed law, ex-offenders:

• Must not have been convicted of higher than a Class G felony;

• Must not have a criminal record prior to their recent conviction;

• Must be gainfully employed, involved in education that will lead to employment, or making reasonable efforts to find employment;

• Must have completed all requirements of their sentence, including drug treatment, anger management, and educational requirements; and

• Must not have any other criminal charges pending.

Before a petition can be considered by the court, victims must be notified and given a chance to participate. The court can impose additional restrictions, conditions, or requirements, and can revoke a certificate once issued.

Similar legislation has been enacted in six other states: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey and New York.





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published: 10/18/2013
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