Carney signs bill that lowers felony barriers in seeking barber, cosmetology licenses

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Gov.  John Carney signed legislation that will help improve opportunities for Delawareans with criminal histories seeking cosmetology and barber licenses.

Sponsored by Rep. J.J. Johnson, House Bill 97 removes roadblocks so a criminal history will not stand in the way of an individual pursuing and applying for an aesthetics license to practice cosmetology, barbering, electrology or nail technology.

“Delawareans who have served their time deserve a second chance, an opportunity to contribute, and reach their full potential,” said  Carney. “This legislation will help those with criminal histories improve their lives while strengthening our communities. Thank you to Representative Johnson and Senator Henry for their leadership on this issue.”

The legislation gives the Board of Cosmetology and Barbering discretion to grant waivers for certain felony convictions when assessing licensure applicants if up to three years have elapsed since their sentence. Previously, the waiting period was five years.

“After an individual has paid his or her debt to society, all they want is to be able to begin to rebuild their lives. Stable employment and training opportunities are critical to that rehabilitation,” said  Johnson, who chairs the House Corrections Committee. “This legislation removes barriers so that individuals will not be defined by their past and will be able to pursue licensing opportunities to put them on a sustainable path forward.”

Under the bill, the board is also precluded from taking into account an applicant’s criminal conviction if more than 10 years have passed since the date of the sentence and there have been no other convictions during that time.

 “Professional licensure is often a gateway to a new life for Delawareans looking to launch new careers, earn more for their families and contribute to their communities,” said David Mangler, director of the Division of Professional Regulation. “We are proud to be a part of Rep. Johnson’s efforts to break down barriers to licensure and broaden opportunities for people across the state.”

Reducing job barriers for those with felony convictions is part of criminal justice reform efforts that work to aid people who have stayed out of trouble in moving past a cycle of menial jobs and life on the edges of society.

Demand for barbers and cosmetologists has been strong, with programs at correctional institutions offering training. 

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