Criminal Records and Licensing / by kevin murray

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) estimates that in regards to the population of America, that all those of age to work, some 65 million of them as of 2010 had criminal records, which is an absolutely staggering amount, and a direct reflection of this country's draconian drug laws as well as victimless crimes that incarcerates and criminalizes activities that really do not harm anyone, other than the person so being arrested.  Additionally, as reported by, "Nearly 30 Percent of Workers in the U.S. Need a License to Perform Their Job."


The long and short of this situation, is that convictions for criminal offenses, unfairly impugn upon those so convicted, a lifetime penalty that precludes job opportunities, housing opportunities, governmental benefits, and fairness to those so convicted.  The bottom line, is that besides having to often serve time within an incarceration facility, that upon being released from such an incarceration, these convicts are often subjected to being monitored, subject to drug tests at the will of the state, as well as suffering many restrictions, such as not being permitted to leave their county of residency, restricted from seeing certain people, restricted from driving a vehicle without expressed permission, and being subject to a curfew.


Whether any of these restrictions serve a good purpose is debatable, but clearly the policy of this country is that those convicted of criminal offenses, often have to pay an unending penalty for such a conviction, which, rather than ending upon their release from incarceration, stays with them, until the day that they die, no matter how old that they are.  The fact that such a high percentage of jobs require a license in order to be employed in that job, is something that restricts certain people from getting that license for they don't have the money, time, or education to pursue such a license, but it also often precludes those that have a criminal record from even being eligible to apply for that license in the first place.


While there may well be good reasons as to why certain criminal convictions should preclude being licensed in certain specific fields, for the most part, this deliberate preclusion is unwarranted, unfair, and clearly makes it incredibly difficult for those that already suffered incarceration to find meaningful employment that will permit them to work hard, make fair money, and to become truly self sufficient.  In addition, the vast majority of those incarcerated in the first place, are people that are typically ill educated, minorities, the poor, and the disadvantaged, so that the upshot of all this incarceration is to deliberately punish those that are least able to defend themselves and have for the most part, been dealt a very bad hand to begin with, in which this government and its policies abandons these people from their inception, and then adding salt to the wound, makes it their policy to criminalize as many of them as possible, and finally to close their door of opportunity by restricting them from applying for and receiving a license necessary for work.


Those that have a criminal record, except for the most egregious crimes and some other special situations, have already paid their dues behind bars, or by having gone through the wringer of our judicial system, so that, upon their release, they should be afforded their basic human rights, with the absolute minimum of restrictions, rather than being treated like wretched refuse upon our shores.