SENATE, No. 1902

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 14, 2012

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  RAYMOND J. LESNIAK

District 20 (Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Provides for issuance of certificate of rehabilitation to certain offenders with substance abuse disorders.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the rehabilitation of criminal offenders and supplementing Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

      1.   a.  Notwithstanding the provisions of any law or regulation, a certificate may be issued in accordance with the provisions of this act to a person who:

      (1) has a substance use disorder;

      (2) has one or more convictions for a crime or offense pursuant to the provisions of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes;

      (3) has refrained from the use of drugs and alcoholic beverages for a minimum of five years;

      (4) has not been convicted of a crime within the past three years;     (5) affirmatively demonstrates rehabilitation by clear and convincing evidence; and

      (6) has been found by a certified addiction professional to be in remission and stable in his recovery.

      b.   A certificate may be issued pursuant to the provisions of this act at any time after sentencing by the court that pronounced the most recent judgment or the State Parole Board.

      c.   For the purposes of this act, a person has a substance use disorder if the person has been evaluated by a certified addiction professional and found to have a substance use disorder as defined in the most current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

      d.   For the purposes of paragraph (2) of subsection a. of this section, a certificate may be issued to a person who has been convicted of one or more offenses or crimes of the first, second, third, or fourth degree, or one or more disorderly persons offenses, in multiple indictments, accusations, or judgments, by multiple courts.

      e.   In determining whether clear and convincing evidence of rehabilitation has been demonstrated, the following factors, if applicable, shall be considered:

      (1) nature and seriousness of the crime;

      (2) circumstances under which the crime occurred;

      (3) date of the crime;

      (4) age of the person when the crime was committed;

      (5) social and medical conditions which may have contributed to the crime;

      (6) any evidence of rehabilitation, including good conduct in prison or in the community;

      (7) successful participation in addiction treatment;

      (8) successful participation in counseling or psychiatric treatment;

      (9) successful participation in available prison programs;

      (10) successful participation in available community programs or correctional work-release programs;

      (11) successful participation in self-help groups or religious programs;

      (12) successful participation in school or work;

      (13) volunteerism;

      (14) evaluations of the person by employers, program staffs, or teachers;

      (15) letters or testimony from others including, but not limited to, relatives or persons who are acquainted with the applicant through religious affiliation, a twelve-step network, or sponsorship;

      (16) evaluations or recommendations of persons who have supervised the applicant during employment;

      (17) evaluations or recommendations of persons who have interacted with the applicant through participation in a program, addiction treatment, or volunteerism;

      (18) steps the applicant has taken to qualify for the license or employment;

      (19) whether the individual is qualified for the license or employment, but for a statutory or regulatory bar pertaining to the conviction; and

      (20) whether the person is alcohol or drug dependent or a certified addiction professional found the person to be in remission and stable in recovery.

 

      2.   The certificate issued pursuant to this section shall supersede all laws to the contrary, suspend and relieve all disabilities and forfeitures imposed by law by reason of the individual’s conviction of any crime or offense enumerated in the certificate, and remove any bars to employment or professional licensure or certification applicable to persons convicted of criminal offenses, except as required pursuant to federal statute or the provisions of section 3 of this act.

 

      3.   a.  An application for employment by a person who has been issued a certificate of rehabilitation shall not be denied by reason of the applicant having been previously convicted of one or more crimes or offenses, or by reason of a finding of lack of “good moral character” when such finding is based upon the fact that the applicant has previously been convicted of one or more crimes or offenses except when:

      (1) there is a direct relationship between one or more of the previous crimes or offenses and the specific employment sought; and

      (2) less than 10 years have elapsed since the commission of the most recent crime other than disorderly persons offenses. 

      b.  In making a determination pursuant to subsection a. of this section, the employer shall consider the following:

      (1) the public policy of this State to encourage employment of persons previously convicted of one or more crimes and offenses;

      (2) the specific duties and responsibilities necessarily related to the employment sought;

      (3) the specific bearing if any, the crime for which the offender was previously convicted will have on the applicant’s fitness or ability to perform one or more such duties or responsibilities required by the employment;

      (4) the time which has elapsed since the occurrence of the crime;

      (5) the age of the offender at the time of occurrence of the crime;

      (6) the legitimate interest of the employer in protecting the health and safety of specific persons; and

      (7) any information produced by the applicant or on the applicant’s behalf in regard to the applicant’s rehabilitation and good conduct.

      c.   As used in this section, “direct relationship” means that the nature of the criminal conduct for which the person was convicted has a direct bearing on the person’s fitness or ability to perform one or more of the duties or responsibilities necessarily related to the license or employment. 

 

      4.   The certificate issued pursuant to this section is considered presumptive evidence of rehabilitation.  A certificate granted under this section shall not prevent any judicial, administrative, licensing or other body, board, authority, public official or employer from relying on grounds other than the fact of the criminal conviction in exercising any discretionary authority to suspend, revoke, refuse to issue, or to refuse to renew any license, permit or other authority or privilege, or to determine eligibility or suitability for employment.

      As used in this section, “license” means any certificate, license, permit or grant of permission required by the laws of this state or any political subdivision thereof, or of any instrumentality of this state or its political subdivision, as a condition for the lawful practice of any act, occupation, employment trade, vocation, business, or profession.  License shall not include any license or permit to own, possess, carry or discharge a firearm.

 

      5.   Disabilities, forfeitures and bars that may be suspended and relieved by the certificate issued pursuant to this act include, but are not limited to:

      a.   Voting rights;

      b.   Passport restrictions;

      c.   Public and private employment;

      d.   Qualification for a license or certification to engage in the practice of a profession, occupation, or business;

      e.   Admission to an examination to qualify for such a license or certificate;

      f.    Public or private housing;

      g.   Education; and

      h.   Motor vehicle licensure, suspension, or revocation.

 

      6.   The court or State Parole Board shall not issue a certificate pursuant to the provisions of this act to any person who has been convicted of murder; aggravated manslaughter; manslaughter; vehicular homicide; aggravated assault; disarming a law enforcement officer; kidnapping; terrorism; possessing or producing chemical weapons, biological agents or nuclear or radiological devices; first degree racketeering; booby traps in manufacturing or distribution facilities; false imprisonment; criminal coercion; luring or enticing a child or adult; human trafficking; aggravated sexual assault; sexual assault; aggravated criminal sexual contact; criminal sexual contact; carjacking; arson; extortion; a violation of subsection a. or b. N.J.S.2C:24-4; endangering the welfare of an incompetent person; use of 17 year old or younger to commit criminal offense; official deprivation of civil rights; riot; solicitation, recruitment to join criminal gang; gang criminality; or promotion of an organized street gang.

     7.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the sixth month after enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill provides for the issuance of a certificate of rehabilitation by the court or State Parole Board to persons who have a substance abuse disorder and have been convicted of certain crimes. 

      Under the provisions of the bill, the certificate may be issued to a person who:  (1) has a substance use disorder; (2) has one or more convictions for a crime or offense pursuant to the provisions of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes (the criminal code); (3) has refrained from the use of drugs and alcoholic beverages for a minimum of five years; (4) has not been convicted of a crime within the past three years; (5) affirmatively demonstrates rehabilitation by clear and convincing evidence; and (6) has been found by a certified addiction professional to be in remission and stable in his recovery.  A person has a substance use disorder under the bill if the person has been evaluated by a certified addiction professional and found to have a substance use disorder as defined in the most current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

      In determining whether clear and convincing evidence of rehabilitation has been demonstrated, the bill sets forth various factors to be considered by the court or parole board.

      The bill provides that an employment application submitted by a person who has been issued a certificate of rehabilitation is not to be denied because the applicant has been previously convicted of one or more crimes or offenses, or by reason of a finding of lack of “good moral character” except when (1) there is a direct relationship between one or more of the previous crimes or offenses and the specific employment sought; and (2) less than 10 years have elapsed since the commission of the most recent crime other than disorderly persons offenses.  The bill sets forth the specific factors to be considered by the employer in making this determination.

      The certificate issued pursuant to the bill is considered presumptive evidence of rehabilitation.  The certificate is not to prevent any judicial, administrative, licensing or other body, board, authority, public official or employer from relying on grounds other than the fact of the criminal conviction in exercising any discretionary authority to suspend, revoke, refuse to issue, or to refuse to renew any license, permit or other authority or privilege, or to determine eligibility or suitability for employment.

      Disabilities, forfeitures and bars that may be suspended and relieved by the certificate include, but are not limited to voting rights; passport restrictions; public and private employment; qualification for a license or certification to engage in the practice of a profession, occupation, or business; admission to an examination to qualify for such a license or certificate; public or private housing; education; and motor vehicle licensure, suspension, or revocation. 

      Finally, the bill provides that persons who have been convicted of certain crimes may not be issued the certificate of rehabilitation.