June 30, 2020

Catholic Conference Applauds Passing of Legislation to Give Former Inmates a Second Chance

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) applauds both the Pennsylvania House and Senate for the June 24 passage of SB 637 – sponsored by state Sen. John DiSanto (R-Dauphin, Perry) – which will remove certain obstacles that prevent an ex-inmate from getting a professional license.

“This is a great component of the criminal justice reform measures that the PCC has been working on,” said PCC Executive Director Eric Failing. “This is not getting soft on crime, this is helping prior offenders avoid more trouble. Once people have paid their debts to society, we should not block them from becoming productive members of society. We think this will help lower recidivism and will help repair families by giving their loved ones a second chance.”

More than 30 occupational fields require a government license or registration in Pennsylvania. In an effort to combat recidivism, the state’s correctional institutions regularly train inmates in professional skills. Yet, after they have been released, the state often denies them a professional license to practice in the very industry they were trained in, due to convictions unconnected to their desired profession. Senate bill 637 corrects this discrepancy.

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference is based in Harrisburg and is the public affairs arm of Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops.

By Al Gnoza, Special to The Witness

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