Categories: Iden News,News 27Aug COLUMN: Eliminating red tape for rehabilitated individuals By state Rep. Brandt Iden of Oshtemo TownshipFor far too long, our definition of ‘rehabilitation’ regarding criminal justice has been the bare minimum.People are released from incarceration every day in Southwest Michigan and around the nation, but are they prepared to succeed in society? Shouldn’t our justice system ensure that those released get back into the workforce responsibly, are able to better their lives and are equipped to support themselves and their families?A responsible and accountable government should work to improve that process, not hamper individuals with additional burdens. Those with little to no prospects upon release may struggle day to day on minimal government assistance or may even return to crime to get by. That is why I have offered a number of proposals during my time in Lansing that would enhance the ability of those individuals to obtain employment and become successful and self-dependent.One of those measures, House Bill 6110, grants discretion to approve an application for an occupational license where one with a criminal record has demonstrated change in their life and a development of good moral character.Another one of my efforts, HB 4117, lifts a requirement of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services to automatically deny insurance agent license applications if the applicant was convicted of particular felonies. There is no time limitation on the current law, meaning someone trying to begin a career could be penalized for something that occurred decades ago. That’s unfair and unnecessary when individuals have already paid a price for what they’ve done and have shown renewed responsibility in their community. Further, my legislation, HB 5882, allows for supplier licenses to potentially be granted in instances where a felony occurred more than 10 years prior to the application.In April 2017, I visited the Vocational Village at the Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia â€“ a first-of-its-kind skilled trades program aimed at preparing offenders for jobs upon release. It was a powerful experience to listen to individuals about the impact that job prospects and employment can have on their lives. Confidence in knowing you can do the job and provide for yourself and a family is pivotal, and I have voted for budget funding for this program and steadfastly support its mission.The Scales of Justice have long been a symbol of equality. Let’s make sure it’s not tipped too far in one direction at the state level due to overregulation and preclusive punitive action.Rep. Brandt Iden, of Oshtemo Township, is in his second term in the Michigan House serving the 61st District, which encompasses the city of Portage and townships of Oshtemo, Prairie Ronde, Schoolcraft and Texas.