From the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics report Second Chances: The Importance of Occupational Licensing Reform to Arkansas’s Criminal Justice Reform Initiatives:
What You’ll Find in This Report
Ex-prisoners who get a job are much less likely to reoffend.
Arkansas’s burdensome occupational licensing laws can be a barrier to anyone trying to find honest work. Some specific licensing laws, like “good character” requirements, can be used to discriminate against ex-prisoners in particular.
Arkansas is one of 3 states with the heaviest licensing burdens for low to moderate income occupations, the ones mostly likely to be labor market entry
points for ex-offenders.
States with heavy occupational licensing burdens have increased recidivism over time. Meanwhile, states with light burdens have decreased their rates of recidivism.
If Arkansas had lowered its licensing burden to that of Kansas or Missouri, we predict that its crime recidivism rate would have fallen by 17.5% in 5 years.
Arkansas’s 1973 “general rehabilitation” law was meant to ensure that the state did not discourage employment for ex-offenders. But that law has been hampered by political pressures and judicial decisions.
Conclusion and Solution
Returning to the original intent of the “general rehabilitation” statue would help ex-offenders break free from cycles of crime. It would also protect Arkansans from future crimes and higher taxes.
Read the report here.