N.J. may help former inmates stay in running for professional licenses, public-sector jobs

(Bastiaan Slabbers/for WHYY)

(Bastiaan Slabbers/for WHYY)

A bill moving in the New Jersey Senate would make sure former offenders aren’t disqualified from consideration for public-sector jobs or state-issued professional licenses.

The measure would allow offenders who’ve completed their sentence to petition the court so they could once again get a professional license or be hired for a public job, said Sen. Sandra Cunningham, D-Hudson, the bill sponsor.

“There are some people who were barbers or hairstylists, and they lost their license when they were incarcerated,” she said. “And what happened was when they came out of incarceration, they couldn’t get their license back. So this bill addresses some of those issues.”

The goal is to ensure people who’ve served their time can support themselves and their families and be productive members of society.

“We can’t bring people out of jail and tell them, ‘OK, you’re free now,’ ” she said. “But what does that freedom mean if you can’t get a job in the kind of business that you were employed because you’ve lost your license to do that?”

Those convicted of more serious crimes would not qualify.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.