Mississippi Is Considering A Fresh Start Act

April 30, 2019
A proposed bill would allow ex-convicts to obtain licenses that are required for various career paths.
Backgrounds Online | April 30, 2019

A proposed bill would allow ex-convicts to obtain licenses that are required for various career paths.

What The Bill Hopes To Accomplish

According to the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, MS has the third highest rate of incarceration in the country. There is great concern that people who spent time in prison will be unable to find jobs after serving their sentences. An inability to obtain employment often leads to more criminal acts and increased recidivism.

To help prevent this, the state is considering House Bill 1284, which is also referred to as the Fresh Start Act. It would help ex-convicts obtain the licenses they need to acquire a variety of jobs in the Magnolia State. Many positions - such as barber, teacher and nurse - require a license. Without one, a job seeker will be ineligible to work in multiple industries. Currently, Mississippi residents who have criminal convictions are prohibited from obtaining certain licenses that are required by many industries.

State Representative Mark Baker spoke in favor of the proposed bill. “It is clear to us that obviously employment is the number one precursor in the reduction of recidivism. Fresh Start is an important piece of legislation which will begin to allow individuals and open up the barriers for individuals to reintegrate back into the work force."

The Fresh Start Act would provide credentialing opportunities for more than 60 professions. There would, however, be limitations. Individuals who served their time, were not arrested again and are actively trying to change their lives would be qualified. People who get arrested again are not likely to be approved.

Second Chance Laws

This bill would be considered part of a Second Chance movement that has been growing throughout the U.S. The most well-known example is Ban the Box, which calls for the removal of questions about criminal history from job applications.

Second Chance laws encourage employers to run criminal background checks after an interview or conditional job offer. While the primary goal is to give ex-convicts new employment opportunities, these laws can also benefit employers by giving them a larger applicant pool.

Running Background Checks

Employers in MS and throughout the country always run background checks when hiring new employees, bringing on contractors or considering volunteers. Background checks show if a job seeker has a serious criminal history that could present a risk to the employer or the public. They also provide essential information about an applicant’s employment and education history. Running them demonstrates you are performing due diligence and provides information that helps you build strong teams.

When you are ready to screen people on behalf of your organization, please contact us. The experienced team at Backgrounds Online can help you build custom screening packages that show if a candidate has a reportable conviction, required license and is otherwise qualified for the position. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday from 5am to 6pm PT.