We are excited that Senate Bill 555 has passed both the Senate and the House and is simply awaiting the Governor’s signature to be signed into law. This bill, introduced by Senator Monty Mason (D-Williamsburg), allows mental health providers to hire individuals who have committed the barrier crime of burglary if the burglary was 10 or more years ago and was related significantly to a substance use disorder or a mental illness.
Although this may seem like it is a small step in removing barriers to employment, this is actually an important victory for the peer support recovery model and movement. Because of this bill, skilled peer support specialists, who may have burglary on their record as a result of their substance use disorder or mental illness, will still be eligible for employment with behavioral health providers. The passage of this bill has the potential to create employment opportunities for Certified Peer Recovery Specialists all over the state.
We’d like to thank VOCAL, SAARA, stakeholders, action groups, and all of the private citizens who advocated for this bill to be passed. Your hard work will make a difference in the lives of peer specialists and the many people they help.
By Annie Blakey