A Mistake That Lasts a Lifetime

A Mistake That Lasts a Lifetime

State licensing schemes that mandate criminal background checks theoretically aim to protect health and safety. Inquiries into convictions that are directly related to the occupation—an elder-abuse conviction for long-term care professions, for example—can be reasonable. But, far too often, restrictions are unnecessarily expanded without any benefit to public safety and health. For instance, in Alabama, a land surveyor is stripped of his license if convicted of any felony, anywhere in the country, even if completely unrelated to the profession. Routine inquiries frequently sweep out anyone with any record. And licensing boards commonly respond to the stigma of a record by unnecessarily rejecting those with trivial, old, or unrelated conviction histories. (Analogous research on employer attitudes demonstrates how the stigma of a record erects a major barrier to work. One notable study found that, after submitting job applications, a man with a record is half as likely to receive a callback as one without a record—one-third as likely if the applicant is black.)

Beth Avery


October 7, 2016

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By |2018-01-01T00:00:00-08:00January 1st, 2018|Inequality, Occupational Licensing, Reference, Reforms|