ordinance allows officials to
penalize businesses for hiring ex-cons, September 9, 2015 Amherst
2:00 Video: Hiring an Ex-con in
Amherst Put Your Business
License At Risk,
September 3, 2015 County
Government officials in
can now require employers to fire any ex-con, August 31, 2015 Amherst County, Virginia
By Eugene Volokh
Back in May of this year the Amherst County Town Board/Board of Supervisors made a change to local law that appears to have gone unnoticed by most.
County ordinance #14-151 http://www.countyofamherst.com/egov/documents/1431616005_45343.pdf.
As of May
2015 basically anyone that has been convicted of any crime (misdemeanor or
felony) involving “Moral Turpitude” will
have their Amherst County Business License revoked AND any business/company that
knowingly employs someone convicted of a crime involving “Moral Turpitude” could have their Amherst County Business License completely
What is Moral Turpitude?
According to Wikipedia it is
A legal concept in the United States and some other countries that refers to "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals." This term appears in U.S. immigration law beginning in the 19th century.
The concept of "moral turpitude" might escape precise definition, but it has been described as an "act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man."
The classification of a crime or other conduct as constituting moral turpitude has significance in several areas of law. First, prior conviction of a crime of moral turpitude (or in some jurisdictions, "moral turpitude conduct", even without a conviction) is considered to have a bearing on the honesty of a witness and might be used for purposes of the impeachment of witnesses.
Second, offenses involving moral turpitude may be grounds to deny or revoke state professional licenses such as teaching credentials, licenses to practice law, or other licensed profession. Third, this concept is of great importance for immigration purposes in the United States, Canada, and some other countries, since offenses which are defined as involving moral turpitude are considered bars to immigration into the U.S.
So, the term “Moral Turpitude” is extremely vague, it is not crime specific and its intention was to be used for Immigration purposes.
have a problem with illegal immigrants securing employment or starting
businesses? Not that I’m aware of,
so why would Amherst County Virginia pass this new
A “Crime” is an act harmful not only to some individual or individuals but also to a community, society or the state which is punishable by law.
But what crimes are included? Well, just about every crime per the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 9 Visas.
How could this new law be applied fairly and consistently? It can’t!
The person given the approval or denial authority for
can be as biased as they personally desire. Amherst County
This new law will lead to violations of “equal protection under the law” because there is NOT a specific list of criminal convictions to know if your conviction qualifies as Moral Turpitude. Applicants can not research their requirements ahead of time, and business owners/employers do not know if any of their current or future employees could lead to them losing their business license. One could easily be subject to extreme financial loss having their license revoked after investing towards said business.
has claimed it supports the
successful re-entry of former-offenders back into society. One of the key
factors in a successful re-entry is employment, without it a former offender
can not secure housing, they can not pay court fines, restitution, probation
fees, mandated therapies/counseling and they can not provide for themselves or
their families. By denying not only business ownership, but employment this
equates to a form of banishment from the entire Commonwealth of Virginia .
Which in turn could lead to joblessness, homelessness and vagrancy which
ironically is a crime of “Morale
Turpitude”. county of Amherst
can not pass laws banning
people including former-offenders from residing within their county, but they
have the ability to deny employment in a round about way. Virginia County
So why would
deny former-offenders from seeking employment or opening a business especially
if they reside in ? Amherst
wants to push former-offenders
out of their county, but as that would be illegal the next-best-option is eliminating
their employment opportunities, a form of indirect banishment. Amherst County
Just what are the limitations to which this can be applied? If an
County business owner wanted to
eliminate Walmart as a competitor, would the fact that Walmart employs former-offenders
counties meet the criteria? Reading the Code I would say yes, if the person who
has been given the authority to rule what meets “Moral Turpitude” and what doesn’t, doesn’t like Walmart and since
there is no list of which crimes apply and which ones don’t there’s NO recourse
for Walmart or whatever business was being targeted. Virginia
Exactly 2 years ago Front Royal Virginia was looking to ban specific citizens from obtaining employment, who was it? It was Registered Sex Offenders (RSO’s).
I’d be willing to bet the main group of Virginians this Amherst County change in law is intended to be directed toward is, RSO’s. How would
even know if current employees of local companies have a conviction? Well the
VSP Sex Offender Registry would be the easiest and cheapest method to find
those who are “morally reprehensible”. Amherst County
It doesn’t matter how old the conviction is, it doesn’t matter that the former-offender paid their court-order debt to society, it doesn’t matter that the former-offender has been rehabilitated, it doesn’t matter that the former-offender has been forgiven by his victim(s) or that they have children to provide for.
In Amherst County the person you are today is irrelevant and the crime you committed once possibly decades earlier makes you unworthy of not just obtaining a business license to run your own business but to be employed anywhere in Amherst County.
and Cities will now follow ’s
What's next? Owning land? Renting a home? Registering a vehicle? Adopting a pet at the local shelter? These aren't silly examples; they could quite possibly be next.
When do former-offenders finally get to move past the punishments, vengeance, labels and hate and onto a successful re-entry?
When does forgiveness and second-chances begin in
for our former-offenders and their families? Virginia
With laws like this, the answer…..sadly……. is never.
If you live in
and you are an RSO you need to be
aware of this new law. Amherst County
If you live in Amherst County your State Delegate is Ben Cline http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/house/members/members.php and your State Senator is Tom Garrett http://apps.lis.virginia.gov/sfb1/Senate/EmailList.aspx , I suggest you contact them about this hateful law that adds more barriers to those who have already served their debt to society and must be able to provide for themselves before they can contribute back to society.