There are tens of thousands of such senseless barriers to reentry, and it is long past time to eliminated them!
When we help those in reentry we help our communities!
Excerpts from the Article:
Rosemarie Abruzzese feared losing her cosmetology license and her job in 2017 after the Pennsylvania Board of Cosmetology said her past felony drug conviction made her a threat to public safety.Her story is familiar, a license being threatened or denied outright because of a past crime.Abruzzese was fortunate, though. She had access to a lawyer and appealed the decision to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. In April, the court ordered the board to grant her a probationary license, which means she can keep her job. If no other problems occur, the full license will be reinstated.
Eliminating licensing regulations that block people with criminal histories from getting work has gained support on the federal and state level. In 2015, the Obama administration released a list of best practices for states on occupational licensing. And President Donald Trump’s labor department is providing funding to states that want to study their licensing laws.“If a person commits a crime, and they pay their debt to society, when does that debt end?” asked Jeff Robinson, director of the Trone Center for Justice and Equality, of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Does it end when you come out of prison? Because apparently it’s just beginning when you come out of prison. And that makes no sense.”
In 2016, state and federal prisons released about 626,000 people, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Studies show that having a job after incarceration makes a person less likely to return to prison. In 2017, about 24 percent of employed people had either a license or certification, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.The House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development has advised states to review their licensing laws. Strict licensing requirements have cost the economy 2.85 million jobs, according to The Hamilton Project, a research group within the liberal Brookings Institution.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, is working on a bill to remove such barriers, said Kristin Lynch, a spokeswoman. The bill would require licensing agencies to standardize how the applications are handled and calls on the FBI to improve the accuracy of background checks.”The bill would make it easier for people with criminal records who have served their time to obtain occupational licenses, which are needed in a wide range of jobs, like cutting hair and driving a taxi,” Lynch said.
The National Employment Law Project has put an emphasis on changing licensing laws for the big industries that can lead to good jobs for people leaving prison, said Maurice Emsellem, its fair chance program director. “Transportation, healthcare, education — industries like that, where there’s a lot of background check restrictions. And if folks can get those jobs, they can really move up the income ladder,” Emsellem said.The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said criminal history checks have a disproportionate effect on people of color. The checks perpetuate discrimination, without persuasive evidence that a criminal background predicts risky behavior on the job, Emsellem said.In a unique report released Tuesday, the Prison Policy Initiative says the unemployment rate for people with criminal records is more than 27 percent, five times higher than the overall U.S. unemployment rate, or higher than the Great Depression. It was done with numbers from The National Former Prisoner Survey, which was completed in 2008. The Initiative’s report shows that black women with criminal records rank at the top of that unemployment list (43.6 percent), with white men with criminal records at the bottom (18.4 percent). The Initiative is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group focused on the harm of mass criminalization.
Number of inmates getting barber licenses