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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Faison files Fresh Start legislation
Convicted felons often face an uphill battle trying to land a job when they are released from prison. Now State Representative Jeremy Faison, Republican from Cosby has introduced legislation to make finding a job easier. He has introduced legislation that would remove certain licensing barriers for Tennesseans who are seeking a fresh start in life. The Fresh Start Act — requires that denials and refusals for occupational or professional license renewal based on a prior criminal conviction are allowable only when the criminal offense directly relates to the individual’s ability to perform duties associated with the occupation or profession for which they are seeking licensure for. Certain felonies are not covered by the bill. Faison says his initiative is designed to further reduce Tennessee’s recidivism rates by providing a pathway to employment for citizens who are returning to their communities following incarceration and who are seeking a fresh start in life. Currently, Tennessee requires licenses for 110 different jobs and state licensing boards can deny a license to individuals with past criminal records, including misdemeanors. “Additional punishment for individuals who have paid their debt to society is completely wrong,” argues Faison who chairs the House Government Operations Committee “This bill allows us to fix some of our past mistakes while helping our citizens capitalize on a greater number of high quality jobs available in Tennessee.” According to the Council of State Governments (CSG), nearly 10 million U.S. adults return to their communities following incarceration every year; upon their release, many face significant barriers to securing employment. The Council estimates that occupational restrictions can result in nearly three million fewer people employed nationally and also raise consumer expenses by more than $200 billion.

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