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Clearing the Path to Employment for Ex-Felons

Monday, July 16, 2012 at 7:00 PM

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Edward Little and Senator Shirley Smith are looking to help ex-offenders

Governor John Kasich was in Cleveland Monday to sign a bill aimed at giving a boost to former convicts who have paid their dues and are looking to get on with their lives. ideastream's David C. Barnett has more.

Governor Kasich was in town to put his signature on what’s called the Collateral Sanctions Bill --- a measure designed to remove some of the roadblocks faced by ex-offenders trying to find work after serving their time. 

GOV. KASICH: We all make mistakes, and some are more serious than others.  It doesn’t mean we don’t carry the responsibility for the mistakes, but when people have a real sense of wanting to get their lives back, who are we to stand in the way of that?

Among other things, the Collateral Sanctions bill allows former convicts to apply for formerly restricted licenses in fields like cosmetology and construction work, and it increases the number of non-violent offenses that an ex-convict can keep private.

The Governor had actually signed the bill three weeks ago in Columbus, but he came to Cleveland for this ceremonial event to commend the bill’s lead author, State Senator Shirley Smith.  Each year, upwards of 5000 former felons re-enter society in Cuyahoga County alone, and Smith says those and thousands more across the state will benefit from the measure.  Edward Little of Cuyahoga County’s Re-Entry Office says ex-offenders aren’t looking for special treatment, just a playing field that’s a bit more level.

EDWARD LITTLE: We just want individuals who have made mistakes to have an opportunity to have the hope and belief and the knowledge that, if I stay out of trouble, if I get an education and do all the right things, that I can be a productive member of society, too. 

Former felons will now get that opportunity, when the Collateral Sanctions measure goes into effect in September.


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