The Consideration of Criminal Records in Occupational Licensing

When returning to the community after incarceration, people often face severe, unanticipated penalties beyond the court’s sentence, which are commonly referred to as “collateral consequences.” Nationally, more than 45,000 collateral consequences restrict all aspects of civic life, including the right to vote and access to government benefits, housing, and student loans; the vast majority of these collateral consequences are employment-related. For example, in an effort to advance public safety and ensure high-quality services, states require licenses for particular businesses or occupations, such as for health care professionals, transportation specialists, and cosmetologists. Restrictions specific to these occupational licenses are one significant type of barrier to employment opportunities for people with criminal records.

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