What human dignity has to do with criminal justice reform

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By David Closson

"On April 10, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin signed into law comprehensive criminal justice reform, making it easier for former inmates to obtain employment and allowing prisoners to work for private companies while completing their sentences. The sweeping measures were recommended by Bevin’s Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council.

In a break from hyper partisan gridlock, the law received overwhelmingly bipartisan support from Kentucky lawmakers (the law was adopted by the Senate 36-0 and the House 85-9), and was backed by organizations with wide-ranging ideological viewpoints including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), U.S. Justice Action Network, and Christian ministries.

Key aspects of the new law include:

1. It removes the government restriction on obtaining professional licensure due to a prior criminal conviction.

Previously, felons, regardless of their offense, were barred from applying for occupational licenses. Similar to most states, Kentucky law requires licensure for the majority of jobs ranging from hairdressers, barbers, bus drivers, working in construction, and surveying property. By removing the barrier to licensing and returning decision-making power to licensure boards, the new law provides former inmates access to thousands of jobs that require a license. While licensure boards retain the power to deny licenses based on qualifications, criminal conviction alone no longer automatically precludes someone from obtaining a license."  Continue reading