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How Misguided Policies are Limiting Employment for Ex-Offenders

| March 21, 2011

An interesting new article in The Crime Report details the mountain of restrictions that ex-offenders face when trying to gain employment. Some of these restrictions are sensible (“[s]ex-offenders are generally barred from work in schools [and] ex-felons cannot generally work in law enforcement”), but many of the restrictions are based on little or no criminological research. For example, the article explains that many restrictions preventing ex-offenders from becoming barbers are based on concerns about what someone with a history of violence may do if given a sharp blade.  (“[T]hink Sweeny Tood” the article quips.)  Such restrictions may make sense for offenders who were convicted of violent crimes, but it is difficult to see why public safety necessarily benefits from imposing such restrictions on non-violent offenders. Indeed, if unreasonable restrictions on employment cause ex-offenders to recidivate (research shows that employment is a key factor in reducing recidivism), then it is possible that these policies are a net detriment to public safety.

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