Rep. proposes bill to help ex-convicts re-enter society - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Rep. proposes bill to help ex-convicts re-enter society

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Dee DeQuattro

ddequattro@abc6.com

A state representative has introduced a bill to help convicted criminals who have served their time re-enter into society.

The bill introduced by Senator Harold Metts would "ban the box" meaning remove a question on job applications regarding criminal convictions.

"Our current system of criminal justice and incarceration amounts to a life sentence for many individuals, even after time served," said Sen. Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence). "We continue to punish individuals long after they have served their time and paid their debt to society."

Metts said the bill would cut down on Rhode Island's recidivism rate of over 60- percent because people with gainful employment are less likely to commit crimes.

"Punishments should certainly fit the crime, but repentance and restoration are teachings we learn from the Bible," said Metts. "Individuals who have done wrong and paid for their mistakes should not be haunted for the rest of their lives. Yet many are currently not given a chance to move on and are routinely screened out of many jobs at which they could be successful and which they need to transition back to normal society."

Metts said he will also introduce a bill to help ex-offenders gain access to jobs, housing, and opportunities available to other individual.

Some individuals who have completed their sentences, who have shown good conduct while incarcerated and who show a desire to re-establish themselves as law-abiding members of society still face impediments," said Metts. "That's unfortunate but understandable. Employers and other decision-makers need some sort of assurance about a person's reliability."

To ensure prospective employers that ex-offenders have been successful in their rehabilitation Metts proposes establishing a "certificate of good conduct" that will be presented to parolees who meet certain requirements. It would serve as an official determination of the parole board that the person has achieved his or her rehabilitation and is ready to re-enter into society.

"We must move beyond punishment," said Senator Metts. "We must have a system that encourages restoration, that opens paths of opportunity for those who wish to lead good lives. Encouraging good behavior and sincere efforts at rehabilitation can help reduce recidivism and ultimately save taxpayer dollars."

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