LaCloche, after an 11-year stint in New York prison, sought to make a living as a barber - a skill he had learned in prison. But New York prohibited felons from receiving business licenses, notwithstanding the state’s Correction Law that prohibited discrimination based solely on a criminal record. The New York State Licensing Authority said that LaCloche’s criminal history alone proved he did not have the “good moral character and trustworthiness” that would be requisite for a business license. In other words, his record per se doomed him from lawfully plying the trade the prison had trained him for.
LaCloche unsuccessfully took his case to the courts. Later, he convinced a more sympathetic legislature to pass a bill that would permit felons to earn barber and cosmetology licenses, but then-Governor Eliot Spitzer vetoed it. When the bill was renewed in 2008, it was approved by new Governor David Paterson.
Paul Samuels, president of the New York criminal justice policy group Legal Action Center, said of the prior blanket ban, “It’s telling people that even if you do your time, pay your debt to society, and you want to do the right thing, we’re not going to let you…It’s simply un-American.” JoAnne Page, president of the Fortune Society, calls the new law “a crack in the door” that may lead the way to open more licensing opportunities for ex-cons.
Source: New York Times.
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login