Marc La Cloche served 11 years in New York prisons for robbery. In prison, says the New York Times, he put in hundreds of hours learning how to be a barber. After his release in 2001, he couldn't get a required state license. The state licensing authority said his “criminal history” proved that he lacked the necessary “good moral character and trustworthiness.” He died of AIDS three years ago at 40.
With La Cloche in mind, some state legislators introduced bills to forbid the state to deny a license to a would-be barber or cosmetologist because of an applicant's criminal record. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer vetoed them. What might be called the La Cloche Law passed the legislature once more and went to Gov. David Paterson, who signed it. “Symbolically, it's one more barrier down, and a particularly stupid one,” said JoAnne Page, president of the Fortune Society. Assemblyman Michael Benjamin says the law is “a crack in the door” that may help eliminate “the more onerous requirements” that make it difficult for former inmates to get required licenses for all sorts of jobs.