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News & Press: Advocacy

Bill Allowing Felons To Work For Corrections Reported To Senate

Tuesday, January 9, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Allan Wachendorfer
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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Bill Allowing Felons To Work For Corrections Reported To Senate

A bill allowing convicted felons to work for the Department of Corrections cleared a Senate committee Tuesday.

HB 4065 would allow someone convicted of a felony to work for the department, so long as their position does not affect public safety, and would require approval from the department director. Currently, they can work as office aides or teach classes if they are certified, but other positions are limited.

Ben Eikey, legislative director for Rep. Dave Pagel (R-Berrien Springs), the bill sponsor, said members of the department came to Mr. Pagel with this legislation because they felt it was unfair for them to ask businesses to hire convicted felons when they were prohibited to do so themselves.

Allan Wachendorfer, director of public policy for National Association of Social Workers of Michigan, said the bill sets an example for the private sector. He said social workers can better help individuals out of the prison system if they have more job options.

"Our jobs are a lot easier if our clients have fewer barriers to become successful people," Mr. Wachendorfer said.

Prior to 1996, the DOC could hire convicted felons, until a law was signed amid "possible safety concerns," said Mary King, executive director of Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency.

She said in 1995, more than 100 people with felony records were employed, and approximately 70 of them were corrections officers.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill 3-0, with Sen. Tory Rocca (R-Sterling Heights) abstaining.

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