State Licensing Board’s Use Of a Criminal History

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Criminal History Information Recording Act (CHIRA) is being amended to require state licensing boards only withhold a license for criminal convictions directly related to the practice of an occupation. In the future, each Licensing Board must consider the nature of the offense, the amount of time that has passed since conviction, evidence of the applicant’s fitness to practice a chosen profession and other relevant factors before any decision is made to withhold a license. The bipartisan amendments will clear a path for people with past criminal records to pursue new career opportunities, including those which could lead to self-employment and business ownership. One senator states, “We simply can’t continue to judge people by their worst day and hold them back from enriching their lives and the lives of others due to mistakes made in the past that have no impact on someone’s ability to do a job.”

Similar laws are being proposed in Kentucky, Connecticut, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. In each jurisdiction, legislatures reject as antiquated and outdated the need for lifelong consequences of a criminal record. Research has shown that post-conviction, individuals who remain crime free for just three to four years, that individual’s risk of recidivism is no different from the risk of arrest for the general population. That is to say, people with criminal records are treated as criminals long after they pose any meaningful risk of reoffending—making it difficult for many to move on with their lives and achieve basic economic security, let alone have a shot at upward mobility. This is what NREMT is doing to many of my clients and I fight them on every denial of application.

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