Signs You're Not Martha Stewart

|

While doing 11 years in a New York prison, Marc La Cloche picked up some barbering skills. Now that he's out, he wants into the trade. The New York Times reports on his sad struggle for acceptance into New York's haircutting community post-prison:

In 2000, as he prepared to be freed, he applied for a required state license. He was denied it. But that decision was reversed when reviewed by a hearing officer. For a while after his release, Mr. La Cloche worked in a Midtown barber shop.

That job did not last long.

New York's secretary of state, who has jurisdiction in these matters, appealed the granting of the license and won. Mr. La Cloche's "criminal history," an administrative law judge ruled, "indicates a lack of good moral character and trustworthiness required for licensure."

In plain language, the fact that Mr. La Cloche had been in prison proved that he was unworthy for the trade that the state itself taught him in prison.

NEXT: Browser Battles

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Maybe he can sue the state for allowing unlicensed barbers to operate in prison.

  2. New York’s secretary of state has a history of abusing his licensing power: http://www.voluntarytrade.org/downloads/cvtreports001.pdf

  3. Well, I mean, obviously they didn’t mean for him to actually use his skills in New York State! Won’t someone please think of the children!

  4. I never understood why barbers need a license. Really just f***ing stupid.

  5. How much do you want to bet that the license was appealed at the instigation of a competing barber?

  6. Oh, and if Martha Stewart, a convicted criminal, wants to do a reality show, well, she’d better get a license first!

    I mean, if the state doesn’t monitor reality show participants for good moral character, something outrageous could happen on TV!

  7. It’s a gimmick to restrict the supply of barbers, making those who have a license more valuable in the marketplace. Like a medieval guild or a state bar association.

    Other than not killing your customers and baking them in pies, what are the rigorous moral standards required of barbers?

  8. Judging from my experience, if prison barbers are anything like military barbers, their practice should be considered a criminal act.

  9. I had the impression all barbers were felons.

  10. I certainly think barbers should be licensed. It takes a lot of knowledge to bloodlet, use leeches, and perform other acts to balance the bodily humors.

  11. If this guy returns to crime, his next victim can thank the Secretary of State.

  12. “If this guy returns to crime, his next victim can thank the Secretary of State.”

    Can his next victem sue the Sec. of State for interfering with his trade, thus forcing him to become a criminal?

  13. Can’t his next victim be the Secretary of State?

  14. WSDave – I imagine a barber’s license would be considered a priviledge, not a right, so a person has no “right” to work in that trade. The only right you’d have would be to due process in the licensing procedure.

  15. Brian,

    Maybe it’s not the “right” to work or the “privilege” to work that’s at issue here, but rather the freedom to work without having to pay off the government to arbitrarily decide if you should be allowed to work in your chosen profession.

  16. It’s part of the notion people have that you should lose your job when committing a crime not related to it. It’s another way of punishing people forever after they’ve committed a crime. That is what’s most important, retribution. Why not not simply pass a law that states all felons must work at minimum wage and live in a commune where they are under supervision and can’t harm anyone.

    Now if Mr. LaCloche went to prison for cutting people up with a straight razor or attempted murder with scissors, it becomes a different subject.

  17. I had the impression all barbers were felons.

    Technically speaking, mine pleaded no contest.

    You probably think I’m kidding.

  18. David,
    I always thought it was a great injustice for businesses to be able to pull your record if your infraction was unrelated to your job. I can see why a financial firm wouldn’t want to hire an embezzler, but does it matter if you had a drunk driving arrest? I can see no child molesters or kidnappers at a daycare, but why let them check to see if you shoplifted?

  19. It’s part of the notion people have that you should lose your job when committing a crime not related to it.

    My take on the issue is that it is part of public resentment against the idea that they, the law abiding, should have to tolerate the presence of convicted criminals who are more economically and professionally successful than they. To ensure that they never become so, the cycle of professional punishment needs to continue into perpetuity.

    To much of he public, he idea that they stayed out of trouble all their lives but are now facing long-term unemployment while the local barber who served time in jail many years ago makes a steady living is pretty offensive. Members of the public who face failure in their own lives need to lash out at others, and convicted criminals who’ve served their time make attractive targets. “Why should Marc La Cloche make a decent living when I can’t?” is a perfectly predictable, if irrational, response.

  20. “Maybe he can sue the state for allowing unlicensed barbers to operate in prison.”

    Oh hell, in some prisons not even the doctors have to be licensed!

  21. I always thought it was a great injustice for businesses to be able to pull your record if your infraction was unrelated to your job.

    Mo-

    Most people here will probably respond with arguments about freedom of association and whatnot. But there’s another angle, which is that criminal convictions are (I thought) a matter of public record. The only way to keep convictions a secret would be to have secret trials.

    They could, I suppose, expunge the records after you’ve been released from jail, but that would have the disadvantage of making it impossible to find out if the wannabe accountant has an embezzlement conviction, the wannabe firefighter has an arson conviction, or the wannabe kingergarten teacher has a child molestation accusation.

    And until they expunge those records, there’s nothing to stop a private investigation firm from getting lists of convictions and keeping their own records (it’s all public data until expunged, after all). Then employers would simply do background checks by calling the firm that keeps those records instead of calling the courthouse.

  22. The state is really screwed up on this one, of course, but here’s a thought: I was under the impression that barbers had to go cosmetology school or some kind of trade school to get licensed (correct me if I’m wrong). If you put yourself through trade school to set up a barber business, might it not piss you off that you have to catch up with your competition, who got educated for free while in prison?

  23. LisaMarie:

    The education wasn’t “free”. It cost 11 years. I very much doubt that there is a person alive who would swap a year or two of paid schooling for 11 years behind bars.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.