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New law helps ex-offenders rebuild after leaving prison

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 6:37 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A new bill signed by Governor Mike DeWine will give some convicted felons a fresh start. House Bill 263 helps people with nonviolent past felony convictions to obtain professional license.

When individuals leave prison and re-enter the community a lack of work is their biggest obstacle according to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

“Once I gained my criminal history it was very challenging to find a job. I had to lie on applications,” an ex-offender who asked to remain anonymous told 13abc.

That woman lost her license as a state tested nurse’s assistant. The legislation DeWine signed will remove barriers for some to have their professional licenses reinstated.

“It’s a two-edge sword - employers need employees. There’s going to be a large health care crisis coming up where they’re going to need thousands of workers down the road as people retire. This allows individuals to get into those paying jobs,” said Tom Luettke, Reentry Coordinator with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

Tom Luettke is the re-entry coordinator with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. He says the new law does not apply to anyone with sex offenses or violent offenders.

“As long as it’s not a fiduciary related crime, it’s a five-year waiting period. If it is a fiduciary related crime - it’s 10 years,” said Luettke.

The new law will block boards from denying licenses based on criminal convictions, unless the board can prove that the offenses are “directly related” to the license sought.

The person we spoke with won’t be able to get her license back. She now works with offenders helping them get back on track.

“So just thinking about my own situation and what it took for me to just push past the hurdle to find a job and stick with it - it’s going to be amazing for others to do that as well.”

The new law will apply to 300 different licenses.

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