By reforming occupational licensing, Maryland has an opportunity to lower the barriers to work faced by those with criminal records —an estimated 1.5 million Marylanders, given that one in three American adults has a criminal record. The key to these individuals moving past their mistakes is finding work. Just as not having a job is the main predictor of how likely someone is to be in poverty, not being able to get a job is the clearest indicator of how likely someone is to re-offend or end up incarcerated again .
But occupational licensing laws can pose unnecessary, often insurmountable, barriers to work for many people with records. Today, nearly 20 percent of Maryland workers require a state occupational license—essentially a permission slip from the government—to work in the numerous occupations licensed by the state.