An important component of reentry is access to employment, and to help improve access, reformers are seeking to ease state prohibitions that prevent those with past convictions from obtaining certain professional and occupational licenses.National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC), The Consideration of Criminal Records in Occupational Licensing (New York: NRRC, 2015).
In 2017, the effort continued in several state legislatures, with broad bipartisan support.See for example Arizona HB 2290 (2017); Kentucky SB 120 (2017); and Nebraska Leg. Bill 299, 105th Leg. (2017). In Nebraska, for example, eliminating restrictions on people with criminal justice histories has been coupled with broader occupational licensing reform supported by liberals and conservatives. Although the bill stalled in 2017, it is expected to return in the 2018 legislature. Licensing bodies are also taking independent action to ease their restrictions. In November 2017, Yale Law School graduate Reginald Dwayne Betts was eventually admitted to the practice law in the state of Connecticut after his admission had been held up due to a 20-year-old conviction from when he was 16 years old.Nicholas Dawidoff, “A Poet, With Prison Behind Him, Becomes an Attorney,” New Yorker, November 7, 2017.