Truly one of the most important factors affecting our country’s domestic tranquility is people’s ability to get a job. In so many different ways, not being able to find lawful employment contributes greatly to a loss of self-respect which, in turn, leads to despair, crime and drug abuse. And probably the ones most susceptible to those ills are people who have served time in prison. Why? Because if ex-felons cannot get a job, the odds are shown to be appreciably higher that they will commit another offense that will land them back in prison.
But what most people do not realize is that many state governments intensely and unfairly aggravate this situation! How? Because those states’ occupational licensing boards are empowered to – and often do – reject applications for as many as 118 different types of jobs simply because the applicants were previously convicted of a felony. This includes applications for licenses to work as barbers, hair stylists, massage therapists and roofers, even though the conviction had nothing to do with those jobs. Yes, maybe some applicants should be rejected based upon the specific circumstances involved, but the decisions should never be automatic! In other words, after they have completed their sentence, the ex-felons have been punished enough and should be given a fair chance to be productive members of society! And, of course, since this situation creates greater court and prison costs, the taxpayers are being punished as well. So everyone loses (except the prison guards unions). Thus, for all of our sakes, this deprivation of Liberty to pursue lawful employment should not be tolerated!
Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President
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