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AFP-Backed Fresh Start Legislation Passes State Senate

Feb 21, 2019 by AFP

Trenton, NJ – Today, the New Jersey Senate passed S-1589, also known as Fresh Start legislation.

Supported by a diverse coalition, the bill would remove unjust barriers to opportunity for New Jerseyans with past convictions by requiring professional and occupational boards to make more informed decisions about whether to revoke someone’s license based on criminal history. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) New Jersey State Director Erica Jedynak issued the following statement following the bill’s passage today.

“Fresh Start legislation removes roadblocks to rehabilitation and will help New Jerseyans improve their lives, their communities, and our state’s future. By helping people go from prison to paycheck, this bill will increase public safety, ease the burden on taxpayers, and strengthen our economy.”

“AFP is proud to have led a diverse coalition, including activists and affected New Jerseyans who are looking to improve their own lives, to support this Fresh Start legislation. AFP applauds bill sponsors Senators Singleton, Gill, and Cunningham for working across the aisle to move this crucial piece of criminal justice reform.”

Background

S-1589 would help ensure that occupational boards weighing criminal history-related license revocations consider factors like the nature and severity of the offense and any evidence of rehabilitation.  These factors include the past offense’s relationship to the occupation in question and the extent to which the crime impacts someone’s ability to perform the job’s duties and responsibilities.

Losing a license over one’s criminal history makes sense if the crime is directly related to the job in question or the person’s ability to perform it. But being barred from a profession simply because of an unrelated past mistake that may have occurred decades ago, doesn’t. The dignity of work is important to help reduce recidivism and save taxpayer dollars, as it costs more than $60,000 a year to incarcerate someone in New Jersey.

See “Turning Shackles into Bootstraps: Why Occupational Licensing Reform Is the Missing Piece of Criminal Justice Reform” for reference.

In January, AFP-New Jersey testified in support of S-1589: https://americansforprosperity.org/testimony-in-support-of-bill-s-1589-a-fresh-start/