(WBIR-Ten Mile) A bill that makes it easier for some felons to find jobs is at Governor Bill Haslam's desk.
It would allow courts to issue an employment certificate to felons who have kept out of trouble. It would also provide some legal protection from lawsuits to employers who hire a felon with the certificate.
Derrick Wilson, 34, of Ten Mile in Roane County is a one-time offender. When he was 19 years old, he bounced checks worth about $1,500.
He was convicted in 2000 of felony check fraud and sentenced to one year probation and community service. Wilson completed his service hours and also paid the bank all the money he owed.
After the conviction, he had a hard time finding work.
"For most of my adult life, I've worked at fast food restaurants and minimum wage jobs just to scrimp and scrape to get by. Because of something I did as a stupid kid," Wilson said.
Wilson now has three children.
"I've always worked an honest job and tried to raise a family and do what I can to support my kids. With this new bill, I think it'd be great for guys like me. There would be more opportunities, as far as jobs go," he said.
It took Wilson 12 years to land a job he loves; he works at an auto parts warehouse. He said he was honest with his employer when they performed a criminal background check.
"Just because they've (felons) done something stupid when they were kids, keep trying. And maybe, just maybe, someone will give them a chance like I got," Wilson said.
The bill passed earlier in the month with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Those in support of it say people are less likely to turn back to crime if they have a job.