Proposed law would open more jobs to felons


The city council public safety committee on Wednesday advanced an ordinance that would allow some felons to work with liquor.

It would open a wide range of jobs to those convicted of property offenses or DUIs.

Currently they cannot get employee liquor permits for four years from either the date of conviction or release from incarceration, whichever is later.

The permits are needed for anyone in the city who touches or works with liquor, such as waiters, bartenders, even those who stock shelves.

Councilman Scott Wagner said the change would give many a second chance and reduce recidivism.

But Councilman Scott Taylor said, “I quite frankly think this ordinance is nuts.”

Property crimes can be very serious and it is questionable whether recent DUI offenders should be working around alcohol, he said.

Lora McDonald, executive director of MORE2, said the change would help many caught in the system for non-violent crimes.

The current four-year prohibition comes from one study that found that non-violent offenders who had not reoffended in that time had no more chance of offending than a person never convicted, she said.

Former Kansas City municipal judge Deborah Neal also spoke in favor of the change. In 2005, she pleaded guilty to mail fraud related to loans solicited from lawyers and was sentenced to 28 months.

The ordinance would open doors, give people “economic dignity” and reduce recidivism, she said.

The matter came up last year, when the city council passed a “ban the box” law. That banned questions on city applications that ask if a person has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.

Advocates say that jobs are critical in preventing recidivism.

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