Currently in both Maryland and Tennessee, a criminal past — or even just being accused of a crime — often stands between people and a job. This is because many occupational licensing laws prevent ex-offenders from being able to obtain a license for the jobs they seek. What’s more, many of these restrictions aren’t targeted at people whose criminal history relates to their desired career; instead, they can serve as blanket bans for those hoping to enter hundreds of professions including plumbing, cosmetology and interior design.

By prohibiting wide swaths of people from licensure, these boards aren’t protecting health and safety — they’re just making it more likely these individuals will remain unemployed and unable to support themselves or their families. This, of course, is counterproductive, as keeping ex-offenders employed is good both for families and for the safety of communities.

[Read the rest of the op-ed over at The Hill].


Image credit: Al Mueller

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