Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Douglas F. Gansler on Tuesday threw his support behind legislation in Annapolis that would shield some criminal convictions from background searches as a way to put more ex-offenders to work and reduce Maryland's recidivism rate.

Gansler said the state's recidivism rate is 46 percent, and state leaders should be doing more to offer opportunities for ex-offenders to enter the workforce.

The legislation, "Maryland Second Chance Act," would shield 13 non-violent misdemeanor convictions from background searchers, including disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, possession of small amounts of marijuana and prostitution. Law enforcement, court officials and certain employers, such as daycare centers and private security firms, would continue to have access to full criminal backgrounds.

"This is not information that's relevant to an employer — like driving without a license, possessing marijuana 5, 6, 7 years ago," Gansler said. "We're hopeful this is one more step to ... close the revolving door and take people from being incarcerated to being taxpaying citizens."

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