Second Chances: The Importance of Occupational Licensing Reform to Arkansas's Criminal Justice Reform Initiatives
Date:  02-18-2019

Arkansas licensing reform expected to reduce recidivism by 17.5 percent in five years
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.