NEWS: Rep. Kawasaki Introduces Bill to Reduce Barriers to Employment for Many Alaskans

Rep. Scott Kawasaki

February 19, 2016

Juneau – Today, Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) introduced a bill to reduce the penalties on employment for those convicted of fourth degree assault in Alaska.

House Bill 321 would reduce the time an Alaskan convicted of misdemeanor assault would be barred from receiving professional licensing from five years to a maximum of one year. The bill includes an exception allowing for stricter regulation on crimes involving domestic violence.

Bans on professional licensing like this, called collateral consequences, are regulations that prohibit institutions like hospitals and tribal health providers from hiring individuals who have been convicted of a certain crime. According to an Alaska Justice Forum publication, collateral consequences are commonly the most significant consequence of a criminal offense despite being largely unrelated to sentencing by the judicial system.

“These collateral consequences create large barriers to employment for minor offenses, and increase recidivism,” said Rep. Kawasaki.  “The most effective way to keep someone from committing another crime is a job. The best way to make sure they end up back in the system is to prevent them from getting a job.”

According to the Legal Action Center (LAC), Alaska ranks number one in the nation for state-created barriers to successful reentry for persons with a criminal record. The Alaska Justice Forum numbers Alaska’s barrier laws in the hundreds.

“The evidence is clear,” said Kawasaki. “Offenders who have served their sentences almost never actually stop paying for their crimes. Collateral consequences hurt them and their families through barriers to employment long after they have done their time.”

HB 321 has been referred to the House Health and Social Services Committee.

For more information, contact Lachlan Gillispie in Rep. Kawasaki’s office at (907) 456-3466.



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