With new law, Convicted felons return to work

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JACKSON, Tenn. — A new law in Tennessee allows convicted felons to get a job with the help of a certificate of employability. WIth a crime in their history, counselors said it is difficult for convicted felons to get their foot in the door a career, no matter how small. “A lot of times, they’ll go to some people and they’ll start to fill out the application and asking some questions, and if they say they’re a felon, they just stop everything,” JACOA Director of Men’s Housing, J.C. Moore, said. To qualify for the certificate of employability, felons must show proof to the court they are reliable enough to work. With the new law, the certificate includes personal information such as work history and references that can say the felon is ready for work. Goodwill’s Career Solutions Center employees explained it is important to be truthful with an employer, and to not lie about previous convictions. “Maybe even throw out they have a timeline of things they’re going to accomplish… this is what I’m going to do to better myself,” Career Counselor Casey Coatney explained. Moore said going back into the workforce helps in their recovery process. “If you can get an individual and they can get employed, that’s one-third of their life. The other third is asleep, so you’ve cut the problem in half,” Moore explained. With the new law, employers cannot refuse to hire applicants based on their criminal history. Employers do have the right to terminate the convicted felons employment, if guidelines are not met, or the felon is arrested subsequent to the certificate of employability. According to the law, felons can apply for the certificate at their county courthouse.

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