The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is working with Sen. Keith Perry and Rep. Spencer Roach to secure passage of bills that would make it easier for Floridians with criminal records to land a job.
The bills (SB 1548/HB 1259) would prohibit occupational licensing boards from denying an application for licensure based on a criminal conviction that’s irrelevant to the job a convict hopes to attain.
Spencer Roach and Keith Perry are advancing a bill that would help former convicts gain meaningful employment.
The proposals would only allow applications to be denied if certain job-specific conditions are met, and a license could not be denied due to an applicant’s record if the person can show rehabilitation and ability to perform the job.
FRRC noted that one in four jobs in Florida requires an occupational license, and about 1 in 3 people has a criminal record. Currently, people with criminal records convictions can be denied a job license simply for having a record, and they may have to wait five years from the date of a conviction to become eligible for a license, even if their record has nothing to do with the work they’re striving to do.
“Our entire society benefits when people with past convictions are able to find meaningful employment,” FRRC Executive Director Desmond Meade said. “Tearing down barriers to employment is not only a win for returning citizens and our families, but for employers and the entire community as well. It is a win-win.”
The current labor crunch only increases the need for such legislation, the bill sponsors and FRRC argue.
“SB 1548 is about expanding opportunities for those with a criminal history. Increasing education and employment opportunities is directly linked to lowering recidivism rates. Additionally, this bill will expand the size of our workforce, which is essential as we tackle the hiring crisis left over from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Perry.
Roach added, “The best social welfare program ever created is a job. Once a citizen has paid their debt to society, they should not be placed at a competitive disadvantage from entering the workforce. This bill will eliminate regulatory burdens that prevent or delay returning citizens from being productive members of society once again. This is a common-sense approach that is good for society, good for our economy, and good for Florida.”
This article was reposted from the Florida Politics "Takeaways from Tallahassee" Staff Reports posted on January 15, 2022.