Delaware Public Media

Gov. Carney signs bills to reduce employment barriers for ex-offenders

Aug 12, 2019

More Delawareans who have criminal convictions will now be eligible for some jobs that require certain licenses.


Gov. John Carney signed legislation Monday removing employment barriers for people with felony convictions.

Bills sponsored by State Sen. Jack Walsh and State Reps. Melissa Minor-Brown and Ed Osienski, aim to help ex-offenders get licensed as massage therapists, plumbers and electricians.

The bills allow boards of examiners to grant waivers for felony convictions after a certain number of years depending on the type of offense. The boards are blocked from considering felonies older than 10 years.

Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said a job with a living wage will help reduce the recidivism rate.

“That’s good criminal justice policy, it’s good economic policy and it’s very good moral policy,” she said.

A 2018 state report shows 64 percent of inmates released between 2012 and 2014 returned to prison within three years.

Carney said that’s a poor record.

“It’s not good for the state, it’s not good for the safety of our communities," he said. "It’s not good obviously for the individuals and those families because when they go back, they’re away from their children, they’re away from their spouses, they’re not making progress in their lives.”

Department of Correction Commissioner Claire DeMatteis previously coordinated re-entry initiatives across six state agencies. Carney’s office didn’t immediately answer who was doing that now.