by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This past Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary committee approved House Bill 770, reports Lindsay Marchello in Carolina Journal. HB 770 is a bill that would make it easier for the citizens with a criminal record to obtain professionals licenses. Marchello writes:
Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians are locked out of work because they have a criminal record. But House Bill 770 would open the door to licensure and help reduce the risk those former offenders will break the law again.
House Bill 770, titled the Freedom to Work bill, would establish guidelines for how licensing boards can deny licenses based on criminal records. Currently, licensing boards have sweeping powers to deny any person with a criminal conviction simply by citing vague criteria such as “moral turpitude.” It does not matter how old the conviction is, how serious the offense is, or if it is even remotely related to the profession in question. HB 770 would combat this, according to Marchello:
The Freedom to Work bill prevents occupational licensing boards from citing a prior conviction to automatically disqualify someone from licensure. A licensing board can still deny a license to someone with a criminal history, but the board must show the conviction is directly related to the profession.
In addition, H.B. 770 would allow applicants for licenses to petition a board to see if their criminal history would preclude them from obtaining a license before undergoing the schooling and exams needed to qualify.
This bill would open the door for many ex-offenders to begin their lives again after they have paid their debts to society. For many, it could be the difference between reoffending and contributing to our communities, our societies, and our economy. As Marchello quotes Jon Guze, JLF’s director of legal studies:
“We know that secure, well-paying jobs reduce crime, increase family formation, and when we have less crime and more families we have happier, healthier, more prosperous communities.”