On Wednesday afternoon, I showed Correction Department Director Brent Reinke a copy of a bill to make public schools off-limits to ex-convicts.
It was Reinke’s first look at the bill, introduced in the Senate Education Committee a day earlier. After taking a couple of minutes to read over the wording — and it is dense legislative wording — he expressed his reservations. He wondered what would become of people who serve their time in prison or a juvenile detention facility. Would they be able to continue their education, or would they drop out — further increasing the risk that they would run afoul of the law again?
After Correction’s legislative team had a chance to review Senate Bill 1056 in detail, the department emailed a formal statement today, reinforcing Reinke’s initial reaction.
“We are very concerned about the restrictive nature of this legislation, and potential unintended consequences. As drafted, these children couldn’t even be considered for alternative schools.
“Research shows that we have the best outcomes for adult offenders when they are able to receive a base education. It makes it much more likely they’ll be productive citizens.”
The bill would require school boards to deny admission to anyone convicted of a violent misdemeanor or felony, if their crime results in a sentence of 12 months or more.