Second Chances

A Partnership of Hope

TDLR staff visit Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) facilities on a regular basis, meeting with incarcerated individuals and providing information about the licensing process for the cosmetology, electricians and air conditioning technicians programs. This outreach, which began in 2012, enables us to educate individuals about how TDLR can help them get licensed through three of the job training pathways offered by the Windham School District, the prison system’s school district.

Now, thanks to an agreement signed December 10, 2020, TDLR, TDCJ, the Windham School District, and the Texas Workforce Commission will work together to help people with criminal histories obtain employment in these three fields once they’ve completed their prison sentences.

  • Under the agreement, the Windham School District will help students who want to become cosmetologists, electricians or ACR technicians to obtain criminal history evaluation letters (CHELs) from TDLR before getting that training.
  • TDLR will provide the CHELs for the incarcerated individuals at a reduced cost and educate Windham and TDCJ staff on the various licensing requirements and the application process.
  • The Workforce Commission will help the individuals with submitting their licensing applications and align their re-entry services across their various programs.

“We expect great things to come out of this partnership,” said Brian Francis, TDLR Executive Director

Background

The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation prioritizes second chances for Texans who have criminal history by providing them with a path to occupational licensing and the opportunity for a better future.

In accordance with the Commission’s philosophy, TDLR applicants are never automatically denied a license due to their criminal history (with one exception: by law, some criminal offenses will keep an applicant from receiving a massage therapy license). Each TDLR applicant is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. With data showing that the best way to reduce recidivism is to minimize the time between release and gainful employment, this approach has a positive impact in communities across Texas.

In 2019, the Texas Legislature amended the Occupations Code to make it less likely that a criminal conviction will prevent an occupational licensing applicant from obtaining a license. House Bill 1342 allows someone with a criminal conviction to receive an occupational license if their offense happened less than five years before they apply and if the offense does not directly relate to the occupation they’re hoping to pursue.

Under HB 1342, TDLR can issue restricted licenses for air conditioning and refrigeration contractors and electricians under certain circumstances. The restricted licenses place specific limitations on where and when someone with the license can work under direct supervision.