Convicted felon: Second chance hits roadblock because of state law

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - After serving six years in prison, a convicted felon spent two years of hard work and dedication to turn his life around - but he's hit a roadblock.

Brandon Johnson invested two years attending classes at Southwest Tennessee Community College. He is wanting to go into the medical field and become a nurse. But, there's a problem - his background.

He said he doesn't fault the school for their policy or the hospital for background checks, but he wants to see a change system-wide when it comes to second chances.

Johnson was convicted of aggravated robbery when he was 18 years old.

He served six years in prison for the crime and said he knew he had to make a change when he was released.

"I've been working the same job, I've been staying out of trouble, and I've been going to school at Southwest for almost two years now," Johnson said.

But those couple of years in college could be void because of Johnson's conviction.

"That's completely unfair, especially when you want people to change their life around and do better," he said.

Johnson needs to complete clinicals and pass a background check to get his nursing license.

In a statement, the college said the information is in their nursing program catalog.

"Persons who have been convicted or a crime other than a minor traffic violation could be ineligible for Registered Nurse Licensure in the State of Tennessee, even though they successfully complete the program."

But Johnson said each case should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

"I could understand if you were a major drug dealer and trying to be a nurse, well that's going to be a conflict of interest because you're going to be around a lot of different drugs," Johnson said. "It should be case by case, it shouldn't be a blanket sheet over everyone."

Johnson hopes his life lesson keep someone from making the same mistake.

He also wants to see this situation spark change.

"Instead of being second class citizens forever because you have something in your background, the laws need to change. It shouldn't be unreasonable for us to have a second chance," Johnson said.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.