Governor signs 3 bills that aim to reduce job barriers for former inmates

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Gov. John Carney signed three bills into law Monday that will break down barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated individuals.

Stable employment is a key component to rehabilitation and criminal justice reform, helping to decrease recidivism, improve public safety and reduce the burden on the prison system.

House Bill 7, House Bill 124 and Senate Bill 43 will improve access to employment by removing roadblocks for individuals who already face a number of challenges when they are released from prison.

The bills will help job-seekers obtain licenses in several trade fields as plumbers, electricians and massage therapists.

The three bills overwhelmingly passed the General Assembly during the session. They were part of a 17-bill package announced in March. Eleven of those bills have been sent to Carney for his signature.

“One of the most critical components of our criminal justice system is getting ex-offenders back into society and making sure they can find good-paying jobs,” saidCarney. “This legislation builds on our efforts to make sure those who served out their sentences can positively contribute to their communities.”

About 60 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals are without a job one year after their release, according to the National Institute of Justice. HB 124, HB 7 and SB 43 promote employment, ensuring that ex-offenders can pursue a stable path forward.

House Bill 7 modifies the impact of criminal history on an applicant’s eligibility for licensure by the Board of Massage and Bodywork. It will allow the Delaware Board of Massage and Bodywork to grant waivers for people with certain felony convictions to obtain professional licenses, and prohibits the Board from considering certain convictions that are more than 10 years old.

House Bill 124 modifies the impact an applicant’s criminal history would have on their eligibility to obtain a license as a plumber or HVAC technician. It gives the licensing board discretion to waive some of those convictions, making them eligible to pursue their new job.

Senate Bill 43 modifies the impact of criminal history on an applicant’s eligibility for licensure by the Board of Electrical Examiners. Similar to the other two bills, SB 43 give the licensing board discretion to waive some of those convictions when considering an application.

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