A freshman state lawmaker from Iredell County is on board with a North Carolina congressional representative's legislation to reduce the nation's recidivism rates and provide more job training options for prisoners.
State Rep. Jeffrey C. McNeely (R-Stony Point) said in an email to East Lake Norman News that U.S. House Resolution 4369, introduced into the House in September by U.S. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC-6), "is a really good idea."
"With the unemployment rate so low in our state, we need to train all the people we can to fill these needs," McNeely said. "I’m not sure about shortening sentences, but we could look at work release to pay back restitution for the crimes they committed against their victims."
State Rep. Jeffrey C. McNeely (R-Stony Point), a former Iredell County Commissioner, was appointed to the North Carolina House District 84 seat in July in place of Rep. Rena Turner, who resigned the previous month.
Walker has represented the state in Congress since he defeated Democrat attorney Laura Field of Hillsborough in 2014 to take the 6th Congressional District seat previously held for almost three decades by Republican Howard Coble, who retired at age 83. In last year's general election, Walker fended off Democrat challenger Ryan Watts of Burlington to keep his seat, winning by 13 percentage points.
H.R. 4369 would provide prisoners and individuals who have criminal records with apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship opportunities, paid job training and education in programs that often can be completed on the job.
The legislation would be an addition to the Great Depression-era National Apprenticeship Act of 1937.
H.R. 4369 also comes about two years after President Donald Trump issued an executive order doubling federal spending on the national apprenticeship program to $200 million a year.
The intent behind H.R. 4369 is not very far removed from a law that takes effect Sunday, Dec. 1, under which 16- and 17-year-olds who commit crimes in North Carolina will no longer automatically be charged as adults, McNeely said.
"I know that we have looked at this with the Raise the Age legislation," he said. "I believe we all want people to serve their time and then enter back into society and become responsible, law-abiding citizens."