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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 People with Criminal Records

    Earning an honest living is one of the best ways to prevent re-offending. But strict occupational licensing requirements make it harder for people with criminal records 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, individuals 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, 9 states—Arizona, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Washington—plus the District of Columbia earned a B or better. Reflecting the surge of interest in this issue, 9 of those 10 jurisdictions have reformed their licensing laws since 2015.
    • The District of Columbia and Iowa tied for first. In contrast, five states—Alabama, Alaska, Nevada, 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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