The purpose of my petition is to gather as many signatures for support so that my bill can be introduced to the 2009 House of Representatives for approval. The more signatures I collect, the better the chance of this Bill becoming a reality. I recently sent the below e-mail to every member of the Virginia Senate and Congress. I have had three return e-mails. I need your support. My bill is called the Second Chance Bill.

In October of 1985 I went to New York on vacation. I worked as a waitress mostly at night and carried a small handgun for protection. Without thinking I packed the gun in my suitcase. On my return flight I tried to catch an earlier flight and brought my suitcase to the ticket counter. The suitcase was searched and I was arrested for Attempted Criminal Possession of a Weapon. This is a class E felony. I didnt understand why this was happening; to me I just made an innocent mistake. I was scared to death and was a single parent of a 5 year old. The lawyer that I hired said the crime carried a sentence of 1-5 years. I plead guilty because I feared that I would loose my child. The lawyer told me that when I left the state of New York I would not have to worry about this again. That turned out to not be true.

In the last 23 years I have not been in any more trouble. I raised my child, returned to college and recently graduated with honors. The purpose of returning to school was to find a successful job and increase my wages. I am also a Notary for the State of Virginia and a member of Phi Theta Kappa. In 1994 I had my civil rights restored by Governor Allen.

Recently I went on a job interview. The application asked if I had ever been convicted of a felony. Of course I said yes. I attached a letter of explanation, the order from the Governor restoring my civil rights and my notary certificate. I also added to the education portion that I graduated from college with honors. When the interviewer read my letter of explanation she excused herself and said that she needed to speak to her supervisor about my conviction before she could start the interview. After about 15 minutes, she returned. I couldnt believe that I was being treated like this. They did interview me. After the interview I asked her how she thought I did. She said that I did very well and she thought of many jobs within the company that I could be considered for. She said that she thought my conviction could stop me from being hired and as it turned out it did. I sent my resume to this company through an internet add. Nothing in the job announcement asked about a felony conviction. This treatment made me feel very uncomfortable and prompted my decision to write this e-mail.

Recently many corporations have implemented a criminal and credit check on all prospective employees. Other than getting my civil rights restored I have asked the Governor of Virginia for a pardon. It was denied because the Governor cannot pardon a crime from another state. I applied for a pardon in New York and I was denied because the Governor only pardons extra exemplary convictions. The Governors office suggested that I have my civil disabilities restored in New York. I went to New York January 29, 2008 to make this request. I asked for a Presidential pardon and I was not eligible because my offense was not federal.

I think that everyone deserves a second chance. How would you like to be judged your entire life for a mistake that you made when you were young? No matter what accomplishments you make, you are held back because of your past.

Here are a few of the requirements that I feel should be fulfilled before youre granted a Second Chance:

1) Applicant has been conviction free for 10 years.
2) A resident of the state of Virginia. The conviction could have happened in another state.
3) Your civil rights have been restored.
4) At least four references that can prove that you have turned your life around since the conviction. One of which must include that the applicant graduated from a community college or university, since the time of conviction.

If the applicant is granted a Second Chance, the record will be sealed. This will allow the person to carry on with his or her life without the constant discrimination that they will have to endure without a Second Chance

If you agree with The Second Chance Bill, please sign this petition. I appreciate your help.

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Jennie VazquezBy:
Petition target:
Virginia House of Representatives


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