by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Jon Sanders writes about a fascinating subject here: state licensing requirements that hurt people who are trying to re-enter society following a criminal conviction by finding a job and becoming self-sufficient.
Conviction records make it harder to find work in general because most employers require background checks. Most people released from incarceration never return, which means they are in fact rehabilitated to society.
Since an occupational license is an entry barrier to entering a field of work, its effect is worse than a potential employer deciding not to take a chance. It takes that choice away from all potential employers in the field and doesn’t even leave the would-be worker the option of self-employment.
How stifling is this? How many are affected in North Carolina? (data from the National Employment Law Project report)
Over one million people (15 percent of the adult population) with arrest or conviction records
22 percent of the workforce employed in fields where they are required to have an occupational license
Over 16,000 people released from prison in 2015, an amount nearly 70 percent higher than in 2000
641 separate disqualifications in state occupational licensing laws for having a conviction record (North Carolina has the 11th most disqualifications in the country; second in the Southeast)
Read Jon’s full analysis here.