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Perspectives on Economic Liberty

  • June 22, 2020    |    Perspectives on Economic Liberty

    Barred From Working

    A Nationwide Study of Occupational Licensing Barriers for Ex-Offenders

    Earning an honest living is one of the best ways to prevent re-offending. But strict occupational licensing requirements make it harder for ex-offenders to find work, thwarting their chances of successful reentry. Along with other “collateral consequences,” like losing the right to vote or the ability to receive government assistance, ex-offenders can be denied a license to work simply because of their criminal record.

    This report provides the most up-to-date account of occupational licensing barriers for ex-offenders and will be regularly updated whenever a state changes its laws. Using 10 distinct criteria, this report grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their legal protections for licensing applicants with criminal records. (See Methodology.)

    • The average state grade is a C-. Nationwide, only 10 states—Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Utah—earned a B- or better. Reflecting the surge of interest in this issue, nine of those 10 states have reformed their licensing laws since 2015.
    • Indiana ranked as the best state in the nation for ex-offenders seeking a license to work, earning this report’s only A grade. In contrast, six states—Alabama, Alaska, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont—were tied for last, receiving a zero on a 100-point scale for their lack of protections for felons seeking licenses.
  • June 1, 2014    |    Perspectives on Economic Liberty

    Today’s bans and strict regulations ultimately limit the choices available to eaters—which include quite literally everyone—and, in the process, prevent food entrepreneurs from earning an honest living.

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