Many with nonviolent criminal records would have improved access to employment under a bill making its way through the General Assembly in Annapolis
Members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings and House Judiciary Committees heard arguments today on the Maryland Second Chance Act of 2014.
“Our communities and our economy suffer when skilled Marylanders are denied access to employment because of a past minor transgression,” said Jason Perkins-Cohen, executive director for the Job Opportunities Task Force in a statement. “This bill simply allows people who have demonstrated that they are responsible citizens an opportunity to go back to work.”
Sponsored by Sens. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Montgomery) and Verna Jones-Rodwell (D-Baltimore City) and Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City), this legislation would allow the shielding of certain nonviolent misdemeanor criminal records after a three to five year waiting period, given that a person has satisfied all the conditions of their sentencing, including parole or probation.
Supporters say records would be shielded from public access, but still available to judicial system officials, law enforcement and employers who are required by law to investigate job applicants’ criminal backgrounds.
Among the offenses that would be shielded under the law include disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, failure to obey a reasonable and lawful order, malicious destruction of property in the lesser degree, trespassing, misdemeanor theft of property or services, drug possession in the lesser degree, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving without a license, driving with a canceled, suspended or revoked license, driving while uninsured and prostitution.
“For thousands of Marylanders, this bill could make the difference between a real second chance in the job market and the legitimate economy and a lifetime of marginalization, poverty and living in the recesses of the economy,” said Raskin in a statement “For people convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors, this legislation is a lifeline.”