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House approves Fresh Start Act

Staff Reports • Updated Apr 7, 2018 at 11:00 AM

State House members this week approved legislation designed to remove barriers for Tennesseans who seek a fresh start in life.

The bill, also known as the Fresh Start Act, 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 desire a fresh start in life.

Currently, Tennessee requires licenses for 110 different jobs; many impact those who seek manual labor or other industrial-related work. State licensing boards can deny a license for the professions to individuals with past criminal records, including lower-level forms of crime classified as misdemeanors.

As passed, the bill would denials and refusals for license renewals based on a prior criminal conviction are only allowable when the criminal offense directly relates to an individual’s ability to perform duties associated with the occupation or profession they for which they seek licensure – excluding violent felonies.

Supporters of the legislation agreed additional punishment for individuals who have paid their debt to society is wrong and the bill allows for a person to fix past mistakes while also helps citizens capitalize on a greater number of high-quality jobs available in Tennessee

According to the Council of State Governments, nearly 10 million U.S. adults return to their communities following incarceration every year; upon their release, many face significant barriers to securing employment. CSG estimated occupational restrictions can result in 2.85 million fewer people employed nationally and also raise consumer expenses by more than $200 billion.

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