Approximately 33% of adult Americans have a criminal record, with people of color being disproportionately represented in this category. There are over 15,000 provisions of law across the 50 states that limit occupational licensing opportunities for people with criminal records. Thus, at least 1.7 million people are barred from finding work in occupations such as pest control application, vegetation pesticide handling, cosmetology, and truck driving.
While there’s movement to correcting this issue with campaigns like Ban the Box, the problem is likely to persist in this decade unless there is reform at the federal level.
It is critical that this issue be tackled, since it affects tens of millions of adults whose occupation selection is constrained due to laws that are often archaic, vague and out of touch with the reality of both the justice system and the labor market.