Fair Chance Licensing Reform: Opening Pathways for People with Records to Join Licensed Professions
Beth Avery, Han Lu, and Maurice Emsellem, National Employment Law Project (NELP)
As this toolkit from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) points out, “tough on crime” policies and mass incarceration has resulted in more Americans having an arrest or conviction record than ever before. Further, the dramatic expansion of occupational licensing that requires people to obtain permission from a government agency—and, commonly, pass a background check—before they can work has meant that more than 70 million people with a record in the United States either face significant barriers when seeking a license to work or they are automatically disqualified, sometimes for life.
This toolkit is intended to provide lawmakers and advocates in states across the country with the resources necessary to set forth the work of fair chance licensing reform in the U.S. Using the evidence highlighted throughout this toolkit, the authors argue that policies that make it easier for people with records to work strengthen the economy, improve public safety, help employers find good workers, and advance racial and social justice. As a result, they further assert, faiir chance licensing reforms are critical to realizing these benefits, and policy makers of all political stripes have spoken out in favor of these commonsense policies.