Texas aids convicted felon in training as barber but denies license

barber shop

Texas taxpayers spent money training Lynn Mays, an ex-convict, how to be a barber.

But due to a system of state agencies that don’t coordinate, Mays was denied a license to practice his new trade and, in his words, “prove the system works,” the Austin American-Statesman’s Eric Dexheimer reports.

The dispute raises a question: Why have a Texas taxpayer-funded agency assist a man trying to reintegrate into society, only then to have another Texas taxpayer-funded agency prevent that?

Mays, a Dallas-area resident who’s 42, finished an eight-year prison term in 2010 for aggravated sexual assault.

To help him find a job, the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services paid for Mays’ barber training.
Mays passed his exams last year. Yet the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation denied Mays a license, concluding that he had not been a free man long enough to prove he’d been rehabilitated. No set time period exists, Jeff Copas, a licensing and regulation department spokesman, told Texas Watchdog.

“It’s done entirely on a case-by-case basis,” Copas said. Officials take many things into account, including the type of crime committed, the amount of time a person has been free, the age of the person and the type of rehabilitation efforts the person has taken, he said.

“There’s a lot of due process involved,” Copas said. “We can’t just arbitrarily deny an appeal.”

Mays’ vocational rehabilitation counselor Charlotte Reed took up the cause for him. Mays appealed the licensing decision to the state Office of Administrative Hearings, and in a letter to that office, Reed pointed out that that “Mr. Mays has several learning disabilities which have been barriers for him in the past,” and that “taxpayers already had paid for his training.”

Taxpayers bought the gas that enabled Mays to appeal to Texas licensing and regulation commissioners last week.

That didn’t matter.

The commissioners unanimously rejected Mays’ entreaty to obtain a barber license, 4-0.

Contact Mike Cronin at mike@texaswatchdog.org or 713-228-2850. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelccronin or @texaswatchdog.

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Photo of sign by flickr user the justified sinner, used via a Creative Commons license.