For the 95 percent of people who are incarcerated and ultimately released, having the opportunity to earn a livable wage upon reentry is vital. However, in Florida, professional licensing regulations make it difficult and sometimes impossible for people with a criminal record to obtain licenses that can help boost their financial standing. The consequences of these burdensome laws are massive: they stifle economic growth and jeopardize the social rehabilitation of returning citizens by making it harder for them to find gainful employment and more likely to return to prison.
Extensive research and studies have underscored the need for more sustainable solutions to reform this ineffective system. Florida lawmakers can enact data-driven and people-centered policies to reform occupational licensing possibilities for people with criminal records, and several states across the country have already implemented or prioritized some of these solutions. The current landscape of occupational licensing for people with a criminal record in Florida will require comprehensive and evidence-based reforms to change the system.
With a stronger commitment to reform, Florida’s Legislature can help reduce the barriers to occupational licensing for people with past criminal convictions. Making it easier for people with criminal histories to qualify for a licensed occupation, earn a stable income, and have the necessary means to provide for themselves and their families is imperative to ensuring a successful reentry process, safer communities, and a more robust and diverse workforce.