The Institute for Justice, a leader in advocacy for reforming occupational licensing laws, has just issued a major new report grading the states on the opportunities they give to people with a criminal record. The press release and links are below. We are not at all surprised that Indiana got the best grade—or that so many states “tied for dead last.” Coincidentally, the legislatures in Iowa, Missouri, and Pennsylvania have in recent days sent broad new occupational licensing reform measures to their governors’ desks, so at least three states seem poised to climb out of IJ’s basement.
Stay tuned for an update of our own survey of employment and licensing laws nationwide, which will be part of the revised Forgiving and Forgetting report that we expect to issue in a few weeks. In the meantime, many congratulations to IJ for its pioneering law reform work on behalf of people with a record.
IJ press release:
Barred from Working: People with Criminal Records Are Unfairly Denied Licenses to Work
New Nationwide Report Offers the Most Comprehensive Look at the Occupational Licensing Barriers Facing Ex-Offenders
Arlington, Va.—Even as states debate opening the economy back up, millions of Americans with criminal records are still locked out of the job market. Today, nearly one in five workers needs a license to work, while one in three Americans has a criminal record of some kind.
Providing the most in-depth and up-to-date look at this intersection between occupational licensing and the criminal-justice system, a new report from the Institute for Justice (IJ), Barred from Working, analyzes and grades the legal protections offered to ex-offenders who apply for licenses to work.
Many state laws fail to make the grade: just nine states received a B- or better. Indiana ranked as the best state in the nation, earning the report’s only A grade. Meanwhile, six states—Alabama, Alaska, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont—all tied for dead last due to their utter lack of protections for former felons seeking licenses.
“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,” said IJ Legislative Analyst Nick Sibilla, who authored the report. “Undoubtedly, some license restrictions make sense: No one wants child molesters working in daycare centers or school bus drivers with DUIs. But as this report shows, many licensing barriers have little basis in common sense or public safety and unfairly deny a fresh start to countless Americans.”