Bills focus on lowering prison recidivism

May 21, 2012

Prompted by stories of former prisoners unable to get jobs and assimilate into society because of the stigma of a felony conviction, California lawmakers are considering three bills that would make it easier for ex-convicts to get jobs. [MyDesert]

One of the bills, currently in the Assembly, would make it easier for former prisoners to get their criminal records expunged. AB2263 would allow judges to expunge the criminal records of felons who are sentenced to county jail once the offenders complete their probation.

Another bill in the assembly, AB1831, would make California the latest state to remove the felony conviction question box from public-sector job applications. If it becomes law, local governments  could request criminal history information immediately on applications for law enforcement jobs or those that require working with children, the elderly or disabled.

In the Senate, lawmakers will consider a bill that would make possessing drugs for personal use a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

State Sen. Mark Leno said California should follow the lead of 13 other states that promote rehabilitation over incarceration and classify possession for personal use as a misdemeanor. Leno those states have noted an increase in drug treatment and a decrease in drug use.

Primarily, addicts avoid felony convictions that make it more difficult to get housing, an education and employment.


7 Comments

  1. The Gimlet Eye says:

    Stop the “Drug War”!

    Legalize drugs now!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  2. taxpayer says:

    I’ve got a better idea. Let’s pass a law that helps people who haven’t committed crimes get jobs. Who, in their right mind, thinks that the California public sector need more convicted felons on the payroll? We need a part time legislature. These people have way too much time on their hands. How about passing a budget?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 5

    • Structure says:

      I agree about the budget and probably making the legislature part-time, but I do think we need a way to get ex-cons back to doing something useful. Not out of a bleeding heart (great if others have one, but personally not so much…), but because it costs too much darn $$$. Without jobs, housing, etc., they are very liable to go right back to prison and start costing taxpayers $47,000 a year again. Or worse, because of overcrowding some rapists, child-molester, violent criminal with get out early to make room for the returning felon. Sometimes government really does need to find a better solution. Though the ideas cited in this article seem like weak sauce to me.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

    • bobfromsanluis says:

      There goes that “cognitive dissonance” mindset of the conservative again; “Let’s pass a law that helps people who haven’t committed crimes get jobs.” ; I thought the conservatives are against passing new laws? Aren’t the “job creators” doing all they can to hire as many people as they can? Or do they need another tax break? People who have been convicted of a felony crime that have served their sentence, completed their parole have served their debt to society; why should they be further penalized for the crime they committed if they have carried out all of the necessary fulfillments of requirements by law? The proposed law protects any law enforcement agency, child care, elder care or handicap care business from hiring someone with a conviction related to any of those fields; if a person is being considered for a job has a felony conviction that has no relevance to the job they are applying for, why should it matter?
      The other proposal to be able to expunge the record of those who serve their time in a county jail facility since their crime wasn’t up the measure to send them to a state facility is also a good idea, as well as removing the felony alignment for drug possession for personal use. Career criminals will not be affected very much by any of the new proposals, they will continue on their destructive path and end up back in prison; but those who truly want to change their path and rejoin society as productive members should not be penalized further by having to check the felony conviction box on a job application form, again, unless it is for a law enforcement position or the conviction is somehow related to the job they are applying for.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10

      • zaphod says:

        “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness”. JKG.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9

  3. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    They mention about changing the felony for personal use to a misdemeanor and drug treatment. I’m all for that if they can make it happen. We had that as a proprosistion about 8 years ago and the people voted it down. Now we have prisons that are crowded with drug users. I say for the lesser and those that aren’t a threat to society, let’s get them treatment and not jail time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

    • Structure says:

      Or have a special “War on Drugs” sales tax to help fund all the required law enforcement, courts, incarceration, and rehabilitation (after drug users get exposed to hardcore criminals they’ll need lots of help to ever become just another self-absorbed drug user again).

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

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