Second Chance Occupational Licensing Reform in Georgia

February 29, 2024

In Georgia, state law often prevents ex-offenders from working in occupations that require a license, even if they have served their time and the crime was nonviolent.

Nearly 4.6 million Georgians have a criminal record.

Over 17,000 inmates in Georgians are released from prison each year and reenter society.

30% of ex-offenders in Georgia are arrested again in three years following their release, often because of a failure to reintegrate into society and find a job.

Recidivism costs Georgia more than $201 million annually.

Former inmates who stay employed for one year post-release are 35% less likely to commit another crime compared to those who don't have a job.

Nearly 1 in 5 jobs in Georgia requires a license.

States with more barriers to occupational licensing experienced a 9% increase in recidivism rates.

States with fewer barriers experienced a 2.5% decrease in recidivism rates.

Georgia policymakers should support occupational licensing reforms that create a path for ex-offenders without a history of violent felonies or sexual offenses to earn a license, such as:

  • Allow ex-offenders to petition a licensing board to see if they are disqualified from the license before they complete training, education, or exams.
  • Provide denied applicants with a path to appeal a licensing board’s decision.
  • Require licensing boards to notify applicants of the board’s decision in writing.
  • Prevent licensing boards from denying a license based on vague “good moral character” or “moral turpitude” requirements.
  • Prevent licensing boards from denying a license to an ex-offender due to a crime committed many years ago for which the threat of recidivism is low.
  • Block licensing boards from denying a license to an ex-offender based on their criminal records unless the crime is directly related to the occupation.
  • Prevent licensing boards from denying a license to an applicant based on an arrest that did not lead to a conviction of a crime.

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