Monthly Archives: April 2018

Reducing Barriers to Professional Licensing

The Collateral Consequences Resource Center recently reported on a  new Indiana law regulating consideration of conviction in occupational and professional licensure in that state.  This is part of a trend, with eight additional states recently enacting or about to  enact similarly progressive occupational licensing schemes.  New general laws regulating licensure are in place in Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, and Massachusetts.  Similar bills have been enrolled and are on the governor’s desk for signature in Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, and Tennessee.  Arizona’s new 2018 licensing law follows on another law passed in that state in 2017 that authorized provisional licenses for individuals with a criminal record.  Massachusett’s new licensing law is part of a more general criminal justice reform bill.   Delaware and Connecticut have also recently loosened restrictions on licensing for cosmetology and related professions.

In California, AB 2138 is currently making its way through the legislature. The bill would reduce barriers to professional licensure for individuals with prior criminal convictions by limiting a regulatory board’s discretion to deny a new license application, or suspend or revoke an existing license, to cases where the applicant or licensee was formally convicted of a substantially related crime or subjected to formal discipline by a licensing board, with offenses older than five years no longer eligible for license denial or suspension or revocation with the exception of violent felonies, as currently established in statute. 

Election Day Registration in CT and IL

Two states, Connecticut and Illinois, began election day registration (EDR) with the 2016 election,[1]and examination of data and interviews from the experience at the county level in those states provides some evidence of the likely effect of implementing EDR in California in 2018:

  1. The number of people likely to use EDR is a small percentage of total in person votes cast.
  2. Data extrapolated from the 2016 EAC Election Administration and Voting Survey for Connecticut and Illinois shows a statewide percentage of voters who used the EDR process to register and vote to be approximately 2% of total in-person voting for both states:[2]
  Total Votes Cast Total In Person Total EDR EDR as % of Total in Person
CT 1,675,955 1,508,670 34,929 2.2%
IL 5,551,017 3,703,548 121,797 1.88%


In other words, based on the Connecticut and Illinois experience in 2016, on average local clerks can expect an additional 2 election day registrants for every 100 in-person voters with the implementation of EDR. This is consistent with other studies predicting a total increase in turnout where EDR is implemented of approximately 4%.[3]


  1. EDR may result in fewer provisional ballots, less registration at clerk’s offices


Comparison of EAVS data from 2016 with data from the 2014 election, before implementation of EDR, tends to support the theory[4]that any additional costs or staffing needs resulting from implementation may be offset by corresponding drops in provisional ballots and in-person registration at clerks offices. With respect to provisional balloting, there is a statistically insignificant change in Connecticut, but a significant drop in provisional balloting both in total and as a percentage of total voting in Illinois:


  Total Provisional Ballots

Cast, 2014

As % of total votes Total Provisional Ballots

Cast, 2016

As % of total votes
CT 19 .00002 66 .00004
IL 32,519 .0114 26,363 .0047


In both Connecticut and Illinois, there was a significant drop in in-person registration at clerk’s offices from 2014 to 2016, which tends to support the theory of a benefit from EDR though it is not possible from the statistical evidence alone to determine if there is a specific causal link compared to other possible sources, such as internet registration:


  Total Registration 2014 % In-person at office Total Registration 2016 % In-person at office
CT 558,056 .30 996,091 .22
IL 1,616,430 .20 2,237,296 .13


III. Anecdotal evidence from local election officials consistently report little to no additional staffing or costs associated with implementation of EDR

Interviews of local election officials in Iowa and North Carolina, where EDR was previously implemented, have reported few staffing or cost consequences from that implementation:[5]

“We really don’t have any extra costs. We don’t hire extra office help for any of it and I have the same number of poll workers I would have even if we did not have EDR.”– Marsha Carter, Shelby County (8,983 registered voters)

“There are none [costs] directly associated, as EDRs are processed along with regular voters.”– Jill Titcomb, Cherokee County (8,892 registered voters)

“… [SDR costs were for] printing of election day registration forms and sending notices to election day registrants after the election” – Jack Beeson, Dallas County (46,295 registered voters)


“Minimal cost, added expense for forms only.”– Dennis Parrot, Jasper County (26,779 registered voters)


“Very minimal [SDR costs]– extra forms, about 10 forms for the last election”– Pam Benjegerdes, Allamakee County (10,029 registered voters)

  1. EDR has significant positive effects on voter turnout

The Connecticut and Illinois experience supports a large body of research that suggest an “enduring turnout boost” from implementation of EDR:[6]

“Not only are there fewer reports of problems with voter registration in states with election

day registration, but both registration and turnout are higher in election day registration states.

Based on voter registration and turnout statistics provided by the Federal Election Commission,

77.3% of the eligible population was registered to vote in non-election day registration states in

2000; 88.8% of the eligible population was registered in election day registration states.

Furthermore, 50.5% of the voting aged population turned out in non-election day registration

states in the 2000 presidential election, while 65.6% turned out to vote in the election-day registration states.[7]




[1]National Conference of State Legislatures, “Same Day Voter Registration,” October 12, 2017

[2]Election Administration and Voter Survey Comprehensive Report, 2016

[3]Election Day Registration’s Effect on U.S. Voter Turnout,Brians and Grofman, Social Science Quarterly 2001 Vol. 82-1

[4]Small Investments, High Yields: A Cost Study of Same day Registration in Iowa and North Carolina, Rokoff and Stokking (2012)

[5]Small Investments, High Yields: A Cost Study of Same day Registration in Iowa and North Carolina, Rokoff and Stokking (2012)

[6]Brians and Grofman, supra

[7]Election Day Voter Registration in the United States, Alvarez, Ansolabehere, & Wilson, Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Report (2002), citing Federal Election Commission data,

Study finds correlation between weak gun laws, police shootings

An analysis by suggests that weaker gun laws and higher rates of gun ownership do, at the very least, correlate with more killings by police officers (including shootings and other incidents of lethal force). The theory is that behind virtually all police shootings is a constant fear that a gun may be present.

The police have good reason to be fearful. The US has a tremendous amount of civilian-owned guns — far more than any other country in the world. Based on recent estimates, there are more firearms in America than there are people. That presents a constant potential threat to police.

“Police officers in the United States in reality need to be conscious of and are trained to be conscious of the fact that literally every single person they come in contact with may be carrying a concealed firearm,” David Kennedy, a criminologist at John Jay College, told me. “That’s true for a 911 call. It’s true for a barking dog call. It’s true for a domestic violence incident. It’s true for a traffic stop. It’s true for everything.”

Stop what you’re doing and listen to this…

“Money respect money, thats the bottom f***ng line” says John Thompson, the Louisiana man who spent 18 years on death row after prosecutors hid exculpatory evidence in his trial. Its part of an unforgettable New Yorker Radio Hour podcast, “John Thompson vs. American Justice,” that lays out the history of the original case and the resulting Supreme Court case that overturned Thompson’s $14,000,000 verdict against the NOLA District Attorney’s Office for their actions in his case. As Thompson says, “the highest court in the land reached out and said ‘f**k you!'”

In the original case, Thompson was convicted of murder in a high-profile case where New Orleans prosecutors wanted a conviction and were not scrupulous about how they got it. After 18 years on death row at Angola State Prison, just weeks before his scheduled execution, his lawyers discovered that a prosecutor had hidden exculpatory evidence from the defense. It was a clear and purposeful violation of the Brady Rule, and ultimately Thompson was exonerated of both crimes. He sued the DA’s office for its practices and won a fourteen-million-dollar settlement, but the Supreme Court reversed the decision, declining to punish the D.A. for the Brady violation.

Here is the Radio Hour summary:

“Thompson’s case revealed fundamental imbalances that undermine the very notion of a fair trial.  Under the Brady Rule, prosecutors must share with the defense any evidence that could be favorable to the defendant.  But there is essentially no practical enforcement of this rule. In most states, prosecutors are the ones who hold the evidence and choose what to share, and disclosing exculpatory evidence makes their cases harder to win. We have absolutely no idea how many criminal trials are flawed by these violations.The staff writer Andrew Marantz, his wife, Sarah Lustbader, of the Fair Punishment Project, and the producer Katherine Wells reported on John Thompson’s story and its implications. They spoke with the late John Thompson (who died in 2017), with his lawyers, and with Harry Connick, Sr., the retired New Orleans D.A. who, despite having tried very hard to have Thompson killed, remains unrepentant.”


Evaluating “Correctional Education”

In 2013 the Rand Corporation completed a meta-analysis of studies examining “correctional education” – basically, any sort of vocational or academic educational program for prisoners. The study (Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults, Davis, Lois M., Robert Bozick, Jennifer L. Steele, Jessica Saunders, and Jeremy N. V. Miles,. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2013) asked these questions:

  1. How effective are correctional education programs in reducing recidivism?
  2. How effective are correctional education programs in improving one’s chances of obtaining employment upon release from prison?
  3. Is correctional education cost effective?
  4. What types of educational programs are most effective?
  5. What additional information is needed to understand the characteristics of effective programs and further build the research evidence base?

The answers:

  • Inmates who participate in correctional education programs had a 43 percent lower odds of recidivating than those who did not. This translates to a reduction in the risk of recidivating of 13 percentage points.
  • It may improve their chances of obtaining employment after release. The odds of obtaining employment post-release among inmates who participated in correctional education was 13 percent higher than the odds for those who did not participate in correctional education.
  • Inmates exposed to computer-assisted instruction learned slightly more in reading and substantially more in math in the same amount of instructional time.
  • Providing correctional education can be cost-effective when it comes to reducing recidivism.