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Utah bill would encourage employers to hire people with criminal records

Feb 14, 2022, 7:18 AM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 4:26 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would encourage employers to give convicted felons a second chance.

SB95 would make it so that companies can’t be sued simply for hiring a felon — there has to be cause — and would apply to industries such as automotive, construction, culinary arts, manufacturing, oil, gas or mining, and transportation.

At Flourish Bakery, they follow a recipe that helps people who just got out of prison, get back on their feet.

Aaron Barney wakes up early to prepare food at Flourish Bakery.

He’s halfway through a year apprenticeship where he’s getting paid, to build a career. Something he never imagined.

“I was in prison for aggravated assault, possession of drugs,” Barney said.

At Flourish, people like Barney get a shot to move on from their past mistakes.

“You gotta be ready to change your life, your thoughts, the people you hang out with,” he said.

Aimee Altiver, Flourish Bakery’s executive director, said by removing background barriers, former inmates can find work and businesses can benefit.

 

“They are grateful for the opportunity to make a living wage and employment,” she said. “And they work harder more than anyone else.”

They advocate for their graduates who have found jobs at Harmon’s and Deer Valley Ski Resort.

“Eighty-five percent of our individuals finish long-term recovery and 100% do not recidivate meaning go back to prison,” said Altiver.

Barney said it’s a day-to-day process to stay clean and stay out of trouble.

“It’s a hand up, not a hand-out,” he said.

Sen. Derrin Owens, R-Fountain Green, sponsored the bill. Last week on the Senate floor, he thanked Barney and the other dozen or so former inmates who were bold enough to own their past mistakes and offer hope to those who are still incarcerated.

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Utah bill would encourage employers to hire people with criminal records