Marion Barry to Chair Committee That Assists Ex-Offenders

Barry wants to help those who have been convicted of crimes get back into the work force.

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D.C. City Council member Marion Barry

Deborah Simmons of the Washington Times is reporting that the D.C. City Council will be voting on committee assignments and oversight priorities on Tuesday. City Council member Marion Barry, who was stripped of a committee chairmanship last year, is expected to head a panel that will give him power over bills to aid ex-felons. The 74-year-old lawmaker likely will lead the Committee on Aging and Community Affairs, where he will have the ability to move a bill to amend the city's human rights laws to open up employment, educational and housing opportunities to people returning from prison or jail.

Barry's Human Rights for Ex-Offender Amendment Act would prohibit housing, job and educational authorities from discriminating against applicants who were "previously questioned, apprehended, taken into custody or detention, held for investigation, arrested, charged with, indicted or tried for any felony, misdemeanor, or other offense pursuant to any law enforcement or military authority other than for offenses that are sexually related." Barry, who served four terms as mayor, also wants to ease the lives of offenders with his Work Release Act, which would allow parole and corrections officials to release offenders on electronic, home-based monitoring devices.

Barry represents Ward 8, which has the city's highest concentrations of poverty and unemployment as well as crime. His new post also gives him more ability to deliver services to such "natural constituents" as the unemployed and underemployed. "Natural constituents"? If anyone knows about getting additional opportunities after messing up royally, it is Marion Barry. People who have served time do need help becoming productive members of society, since so many barriers exist to keep them out.

Having said that, Barry's time should be up. He was just stripped of his chairmanship over housing last year because of an incident involving a woman, and now he gets another shot? Perhaps we should call him Teflon Barry? When you continue to violate rules and laws and continue to receive additional opportunities, then why wouldn't you continue to mess up? Barry's Achilles' heel is obviously ethics, so how long will it be before he gets caught up in some controversy related to this effort? The effort to help ex-felons is noble because people deserve second chances, but not third, fourths or fifths like Mr. Barry.

Read more at the Washington Times.

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