State board grants waiver for felon to pursue career as funeral director

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A state board granted a waiver for a convicted felon who is pursuing a career as a funeral director.

Tyler Jones pleaded his case before the State Board of Embalmers, Funeral Directors and Burial Services on Tuesday morning.

Jones, 25, admitted to four felonies on his record, which include two counts of theft and two counts of breaking or entering.

In 2017, court documents state Jones stole more than $7,000 worth of tools and equipment from a residence in Montgomery county and then tried to pawn it all.

In his hearing before the board on Tuesday, Jones said he was on drugs at the time.

Following his conviction, Jones served nearly a year behind bars, nine months of drug court and was released from probation early.

“Even though I’ve messed up in my past, I’ve moved past everything. I’m a lot better person than I used to be,” Jones told us after his hearing.

State law says to be a licensed funeral director, one must pass a background check. In Jones’ case, his felonies would make that impossible.

However, a waiver from the state board allows anyone to bypass the background check requirement.

“The board tries to take into account the human factors that are involved in these issues,” Bill Booker says.

Booker is the chairman of the State Board of Embalmers, Funeral Directors and Burial Services.

“It’s very important. We’re trying to balance here the interest of the consumer and the public, of course, with someone’s future career.”

Ultimately, the board granted Jones a waiver.

He will now serve an 18-month apprenticeship and then be allowed to take the exam to earn a license to become a funeral director.

He currently works as an assistant at Cedarvale Funeral Home, which is run by his father, Scott, in Hot Springs Village.

“I’ve learned that even if you really mess up, it’s OK to tell the truth,” Jones says.

“Even though you’re a felon, you can still accomplish anything.”

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