Arkansas Senator addresses licensing barriers facing people with a criminal record

Arkansas Senator John Cooper said the proposed bill would help those with a criminal background...
Arkansas Senator John Cooper said the proposed bill would help those with a criminal background pre-qualify for consideration of employment. (Source: KAIT-TV)((Source: KAIT-TV))
Updated: Feb. 12, 2019 at 5:53 PM CST
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LITTLE ROCK, AR (KAIT) - A proposed bill would create more employment opportunities for those with a criminal record background.

The bill allows those who have a criminal background the ability to seek waivers from an occupational licensing board that would allow them to enter a job which they would otherwise not have access to.

State Senator John Cooper of District 21 in Jonesboro said the intent of the bill occurred after getting several calls expressing circumstances that needed to be fixed.

Some of the factors would include how long since the offense was committed, relevancy to occupation, work history, and references.

“It gives people who have made mistakes in their past and who have criminal backgrounds to find employment," Cooper said. "That would intend to reduce the recidivism rate of people who have records and maybe prevent some people from going back to prison or continue to engage in criminal activity in the future.”

According to the proposed bill, “Before applying for occupational licensure, an individual may request an informal appearance before the occupational licensing to determine whether he or she would pass the criminal background check and if he or she could obtain a waiver.”

Sen. Cooper said the proposed bill would also give the occupational licensing boards more opportunity to waive certain offenses when relevance is not a factor.

It’ll be considered by a Senate committee on Feb. 13.

To see the proposed bill, view here.

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