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March 3, 2021 12:57pm

Bill to support successful reentry passes House committee

A bill aiming to support successful reentry into society and the workforce for Kentuckians leaving prison advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee this afternoon. House Bill 497, sponsored by Representative Kim Moser, would establish a certificate of employability program for eligible inmates in Kentucky prisons to encourage second-chance employment opportunities. The bill would also require the Department of Corrections to equip inmates leaving incarceration with the necessary documents and paperwork to ease the process of reentry and would encourage DOC to provide support for inmates in preparing and writing job resumes.

GLI joined a coalition of supporters calling for passage of House Bill 497 because of its potential for removing barriers to successful reentry and supporting workforce development. See the full coalition letter below.

We, the undersigned organizations, support HB 497 to promote a successful and healthy reentry for Kentuckians returning to communities after incarceration. Ninety-five percent of the people incarcerated in the United States eventually return to their communities. Kentuckians will benefit from having the Department of Corrections issue certificates of employability and the documentation needed for valid state-issued photo identification upon their release from incarceration.

Kentucky’s high recidivism rate is caused by the lack of opportunities for returning citizens and lack of reentry supports.

An estimated 60% to 75% of people who were formerly incarcerated cannot find stable employment up to a year after release. Involvement in the criminal legal system can negatively impact employment opportunities; for example, having a record reduces the likelihood of a job callback by 60% for Black applicants and 30% for white applicants.

Understanding the major barriers to successful reentry – housing, employment, and education – points to solutions. Providing a certificate of employability will increase returning citizens’ opportunities for economic security and access to productive pathways. Having a photo ID is necessary for employment, substance use treatment, housing and more.

Recognizing the public does not have the opportunity to witness the rehabilitative steps of incarcerated individuals, HB 497 will allow potential employers, landlords and admissions boards to consider the productive steps taken by returning citizens.

We call on our legislators to pass HB 497, providing returning citizens, their families, and our communities a smoother pathway forward from incarceration.