Senate Committee Approves Bill To Help Ex-Offenders Find Employment

State Sen. Ray Lesniak

TRENTON – The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee unanimously approved legislation that would aid certain ex-offenders in gaining employment.

“Releasing prisoners into a society that places unnecessary roadblocks to employment increases the chances they will be back in prison sooner or later,” said state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Union). “It is time we remove the archaic prohibition on any employment by an ex-offender in an establishment holding a liquor license. Reducing the rate of recidivism not only saves the cost of imprisonment, it also makes for safer neighborhoods in our communities.”

The bill (S-3044) would allow ex-offenders – excluding sex offenders – to be employed by alcoholic beverage licensees such as restaurants or bars, in positions not requiring the serving, selling or soliciting the sale, mixing, processing or preparation of alcohol.

Under current law, a person convicted of crimes such as fraud, assault or destruction of property is unable to be employed by any business holding a liquor license, unless the person has obtained a Rehabilitation Employment Permit from the Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which currently costs $125 annually. This restricts ex-offenders from being employed at bars and restaurants in such positions as cooks, janitors and dishwashers and under contract as band members, disc jockeys or janitorial personnel, even though they may come in no direct contact with alcohol.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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