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Council of State Governments Initiates Efforts to Reduce Barriers to Employment for the Formerly Incarcerated

by Douglas Ankney

The Council of State Governments Justice Center (“CSGJC”) initiated efforts to reduce employment barriers for people with criminal histories. Recognizing that nearly 25% of all jobs in the U.S. require some type of government-issued license, 10 state legislatures adopted laws that expand licensing opportunities for people with prior criminal convictions. In response, the CSGJC launched its Fair Chance Licensing Project (“FCLP”). The FCLP will track reforms in all 50 states that enhance employment opportunities for people convicted of felonies and misdemeanors. The 50-state overview provides a ready resource for policymakers, advocates, and ex-prisoners to receive current information about license restrictions in every state.

For example, licensure boards in Illinois, North Carolina, and Texas will no longer be permitted to consider applicants’ arrests that did not result in a conviction. And in Colorado, Florida, and New Hampshire, misdemeanors and lower-level nonviolent felonies cannot be considered when making licensure determinations.
The CSGJC also identified “14 best practices” designed to ensure that all licensee applicants are treated fairly and to ensure that workers with criminal histories are told that their prior convictions will prohibit a license before they spend time and money pursuing training or education in that field.

Finally, the CSGJC developed “The Living Premier”—an hour-long interactive workshop aimed at raising awareness about barriers to employment faced by people with criminal records.  


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