Criminal Justice

Bill would let former prisoners work

January 14, 2019

Trent England

If a person commits a crime, does his time, and then gets out of prison, should that person be allowed to get a job? Of course, that would seem like the best-case scenario: turn tax consumers into tax payers. Unfortunately, some laws and rules in Oklahoma do prohibit people with long-ago felony convictions from getting certain jobs. Sometimes that makes sense, but sometimes it does not.

A proposal by Sen. Micheal Bergstrom would deal with instances where it does not make sense. Senate Bill 101 would make sure that Oklahomans with long-ago criminal convictions can work in fields like architecture and cosmetology. It would not apply if the criminal conviction was directly related to the field of work, but otherwise, after 10 years, none of these licensing boards could deny a person a license just because of the past conviction.
Measures like this one show that Oklahoma legislators remain concerned about criminal justice reforms. Anything that helps get people back into steady jobs has the potential to reduce recidivism rates (the rate at which people coming out of jail or prison commit additional crimes) and thus lower the overall crime rate and incarceration rate in Oklahoma.