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December 5, 2016

"No Bars: Unlocking the Economic Power of the Formerly Incarcerated"

The title of this post is the title of this intriguing little paper authored by Emily Fetsch for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:

One in three Americans has a criminal record.  Given the significant size of this population, the ability for these individuals to attain economic success after they leave prison has tremendous implications for our economy and economic mobility. But formerly incarcerated individuals face substantial obstacles to employment when they leave prison, from discrimination in hiring to occupational licensing requirements that exclude those with criminal records from specific professions.

This paper summarizes recent research on the employment of formerly incarcerated individuals, focusing in particular on the disproportionate effect of occupational licensing requirements.  The paper concludes with suggestions for policy changes that would reduce the friction this population experiences in the labor market.  These policies would help these individuals become more economically independent and have a positive impact on the economy as a whole.

December 5, 2016 at 06:28 PM | Permalink


In Pennsylvania, the crime has to be relevant to the job to be disqualifying. Yet, all employers are reluctant. If the employee gets into a crash at work, they will be liable, not for the crash, but for negligent hiring. Every tiny item in the criminal record will be blown up and dramatically amplified, to take the assets of the business.

A gross negligence standard should be imposed on any hiring of felons, rather than ordinary negligence.

Posted by: David Behar | Dec 6, 2016 12:40:20 AM

Once someone has done their time, they should be given a second chance, NO STRINGS ATTACHED!

Posted by: kat | Dec 6, 2016 9:44:42 AM

Few Americans realize that six percent (6%) of the adult population of America (about 18 million people) has a felony conviction, which effectively keeps them out of most decent and higher paying jobs. Even Starbucks has a corporate policy against hiring a convicted felon, no matter what the felony was (in Ky., my favorite is not having paid child support!) or how much time has gone by since the former felon returned to society.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Dec 6, 2016 10:55:04 AM

How many were falsely convicted without evidence, like in Montague County, Texas just for benefits? I can name a few. I agree with David Behar that once someone has done their time - NO STRINGS ATTACHED, too many bad DA's have put 10 year probation (fees) just to yank them back into the system. Montague County Probation Officer was not even legal.

Posted by: LC in Texas | Dec 6, 2016 5:38:51 PM

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