Whether a person with a conviction can find gainful employment is one of the most important factors in determining if that person will succeed in reintegrating into his or her community, or will commit another crime. Florida’s occupational licensing laws can block job and entrepreneurial opportunities for people returning from prison. These barriers impede and, in some cases, completely prevent people with convictions from becoming gainfully employed.
Florida law should be changed to limit the number and types of convictions that can prevent occupational licensure, certification, and permitting. Florida law should require licensing authorities to demonstrate that convictions that do prevent licensure are necessary to protect health, safety and public welfare. Moreover, people in prison should be allowed to train and obtain occupational licenses, certifications and permits while incarcerated so that they are able to enter a profession immediately upon release and return to their communities.
What's the Solution?
- Remove prior convictions as a basis for denial of licensure, certification, or permit where those prior convictions are unrelated to the profession for which licensure, certification or permitting is sought.
- Remove the arbitrary “good moral character” requirement for licensure.
- Ensure that if a person in prison can be employed by a company with a contract with FDC while incarcerated, the company cannot deny employment to formerly incarcerated people once released.
- Require each licensing, certifying, or permitting authority to provide a study showing the impact to health, welfare, and public safety for any disqualifying conviction.
- Require each authority that prohibits licensure, certification, or permit based on disqualifying convictions to conduct an assessment of the justification for its disqualifying convictions every 4 years.
- Fully fund GED attainment, job training and licensure programs for currently incarcerated people.
- Allow incarcerated people or those who are still under community supervision to apply for occupational licenses before completing their sentences, so they can get a valid and active license immediately upon their return to the community.
- ncrease transparency at professional licensing boards, so that people with convictions can see what criminal convictions will and won’t disqualify them from a particular profession – before they invest in expensive professional training, education and licensing fees.
- Prohibit employers from inquiring about prior convictions on employment applications.