Legislature OKs Ward’s bill to roll back work restrictions for ex-prisoners      

FROM STAFF REPORTS

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama State Senate on May 28 gave final passage to Senate Bill 163, a measure that removes many of the work restrictions that currently face people who have served the entirety of their prison sentence and paid full restitution.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, received bipartisan support, passing unanimously in the state House and Senate.

“This is conservative criminal justice reform that recognizes the dignity of work,” Ward said. “I want to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate, on both sides of this aisle. We’re removing barriers for people who have already paid their debt to society, and who want to work hard and forge a new life for themselves and their families.”

Currently, there are 783 places in Alabama’s laws and regulations where citizens who have committed a crime are indefinitely barred from receiving various occupational and professional licenses.

Ward’s legislation allows a person who has served their full sentence, and paid all restitution, to petition a judge to obtain an order of limited relief. Once the order of limited relief is obtained, an occupational licensing board or commission is prohibited from automatically denying a certification to someone with such an order. The board is required to conduct a fair hearing, and consider the merits of the petitioner’s case.

“Frankly, this is part of a larger problem where we have too many layers of bureaucratic licensure requirements, many of which seemed designed to create barriers to entry for aspiring workers, rather than actually protecting consumers,” Ward said. “Once justice had been served, these citizens deserve every opportunity to find employment, support their families, and contribute to society.”

Tuesday marked the 25th of 30 possible legislative days in the 2019 regular session.