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March 13, 2013     Hays Free Press
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March 13, 2013
 

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Page 4D BUSINESS Hays Free Press March 13, 2013 + BY MAURICE CHAMMAH Texas Tribune Amid a broader legislative effort to help prisoners re- enter society after their sen- tences, lawmakers on Monday were urged to limit the legal liability of businesses that hire ex-prisoners. House Bill 1188, by state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D- Houston, would bar anyone who hires a former prisoner from being sued for "negli- gently hiring or failing to ade- quately supervise" the employ- ee should he or she commit a crime while on the job. "This allows these people to get back into the mainstream so they can become produc- tive citizens," Thompson said at a House Judiciary Commit- tee hearing. While advocates for the bill say protections for employers will help former prisoners find jobs as they reintegrate into society, some took issue with the bill's exceptions, which exclude liability protection for companies that hire former sex offenders. Analysts said many com- panies are reluctant to hire former offenders because of worries about lawsuits should the employee commit another crime while working. "There are a lot of companies that understand the redemption of the individual, but they don't want to get sued," said Jorge policy based on the idea that "Studies have shown that vocational ex-offenders who successfully find jobs and do not return to education reduce recidivism more than prison contribute to a healthi- anything else you can do. You get the er business climate. A program at the Cleveland Unit in East most benefit if there's a connection to Texas that trains prisoners to start their own businesses af- jobs available in the workforce." ter release is expanding and recently partnered with Baylor University to offer business -Marc Levin, a policy analyst with the Texas Public Policy Foundation certificates. "Studies have shown that Renaud, a former inmate who tor of Texas Voices for Reason vocational education reduce now analyzes policy for the and Justice, said lawmakers of- recidivism more than anything Texas Criminal Justice Coati- ten exclude sex offenders from else you can do," said Marc tion. bills related to prisoner re- Levin, a policy analyst with Sam Caldwell, a former in- entry because of a widespread the Texas Public Policy Foun- mate, said he has struggled to notion that such offenders dation, a conservative think find work because of his 10- cannotberehabilitated."That's tank. "You get the most benefit year sentence for sexual as- the hardest myth to break," if there's a connection to jobs sault. He told lawmakers that she said. "It may look better" available in the workforce." companies considered hiring to exclude these offenders, she On the national level, the him but were worried he might said, but"it doesn't make com- federal Equal Employment face accusations. "It's not the munities safer." Opportunity Commission last risk that I do something - it's "Everyone should have a year issued guidelines to pro- the risk that someone says I do chance at re-entry," she add- hibit employers from denying something," he said. ed. people jobs based solely on The bill, which has the sup- Caldwell said he supports their criminal records, though port of the Texas Trial Lawyers the bill even though it would employers can still run back- Association, includes an ex- not apply to him. "We want to ground checks. The Michigan ception for employees whose get it passed," he said, adding Legislature is now considering original crimes are related to that he would hope to expand a bill that would ban employ- their current employment, the liability protection to in- ers from asking on job applica- If someone commits fraud, dude sex offenders in the fu- tions about pri6r convictions. serves a prison sentence and ture. Thompson has also filed is then hired to disburse funds, The bill comes amid a push House Bills 799 and 797, which for instance, the employer can to address issues related to would require the Windham still be sued if the employee helping prisoners re-enter so- School District - which runs commits fraud again, ciety and find jobs after their classes within the Texas De- There are also exceptions release. This year, the Texas partment of Criminal Justice for violent offenses and sexual Association of Business, the - to provide more information crimes, which has stirred some state's largest business group, for prisoners on licensing re- opposition, has for the first time gotten strictions they will face when Mary Sue Molnar, the direc- involved in criminal justice theyleave prison. 122 Main Street Downtown Buda at the traffic light 468-4451 Open every day 295-6008 Great Food $100 Mi m Game Prize Texas Bingo License No. t7424B03151 YMCA Expansion Continued from pg. 1D project, the Hays YMCA will ren- ovate 4,224 square feet of exist- ins space, with 2,000 square feet for a high impact group exer- cise multi-purpose room, 1,800 square feet allotted for weight room space and 424 square feet for storage and one unisex bath- room. Their hope is to have this ready for use byApril. "This expansion allows us to serve people in new ways," said Kiester, who has worked hand- in-hand with the community during his five years with the Hays YMCA. Kiester helped raise $79,000 through the YMCA of Austin's Partner of Youth an- nual giving campaign in 2012. Panner of Youth pro- vides fund- inS for chil- dren who are unable to enter YMCA pro- grams due to cost. The HaysYMCA donated more than $150,000 in 2012, with The Hays YMCA has partnered with Hays CISD to promote Project SAFE (Safety, Aquatics & Physical Education) Kiester saying, "For every dollar we get, we give two dollars back to the community." Recently, the Hays YMCA has partnered with Hays CISD to promote Project SAFE (Safety, Aquatics & Physical Education), which is a YMCA initiative to raise awareness on general safe- ty, provide free swimming les- sons, as well as battle the issue of obesity in children. Currently, the Hays Project SAFE program assists 800 youths within the Hays CISD, primarily with first grade students. For Kiester, the project's com- pletion will aid in the YMCA's goal of promoting well-being in families. "This allows us to serve our community a little better," he said. PHOTO BY MOSES LEOS III In the first phase of the expansion project, the Hays YMCA will renovate 4,224 square feet of existing space, with 2,000 square feet for a high impact group exercise multi-purpose room, 1,800 square feet allotted for weight room space and 424 square feet for storage and one unisex bathroom. The key to buying life insurance is working with people you trust, a company you know, and getting a plan that meets your needs. That's why Germania Life is the right choice. We offer a wide variety of policies, flexible terms and range of premium options. And because we only insure Texans, your local Germania agent knows how Texans live. 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