Montgomery Law Lifts Discretionary Ban on Occupational Licenses for People Released From Prison

Velmanette Montgomery

September 10, 2008

September 10, 2008 (Albany, NY): New Yorkers will no longer be arbitrarily denied a license to barber or practice cosmetology because they spent time in prison under a new law authored by State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn).

The law (Chapter 469), which is sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblyman Michael Benjamin (D-Bronx), prohibits licensing agencies from disqualifying someone from licensure as a barber or cosmetologist solely on the basis of a criminal conviction.

Men and women in New York correctional facilities are encouraged to participate in and successfully complete vocational/occupational training programs so they may have a chance to compete for real wage jobs when they get out of prison.

"Barbering and cosmetology are two of the occupations for which training offered in prison," said Montgomery, a member of the Senate Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections. "People transitioning from prison to community life should be able to pursue the profession(s) for which they were trained and to contribute to society as law-abiding, tax-paying citizens.

Glenn Martin of the Fortune Society agrees. "The passage of Senator Montgomery’s bill marks a critical first step in removing counterproductive barriers to licensure and employment, which only serve to diminish public safety by keeping qualified and rehabilitated job seekers with criminal records out of the labor force," said Martin, who is the Society’s Vice President of Development and Public Affairs.

"Ex-offenders face many mandatory exclusions from housing, social programs, employment and other necessary transitional services. My bill is critical to making job security accessible to people who endeavor to be a success in the free world," the Senator concluded.