Nick Sibilla


Writer & Legislative Analyst

As a Writer & Legislative Analyst for the Institute for Justice, Nick Sibilla regularly writes opeds and works with state and federal lawmakers from both parties. As part of IJ’s legislative affairs team, Nick has helped secure landmark reforms that overhauled civil forfeiture and occupational licensing in California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Nebraska and New Hampshire. He is also a senior contributor to Forbes.com, where he covers criminal justice and entrepreneurship.

Outside of Forbes, his writings have appeared in many high-profile outlets, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the New York Post, Barron’s, The GuardianSlate, WiredReason, FoxNews.com, NBCNews.com, National Review Online, The Orange County Register and numerous newspapers nationwide. His work has also been cited by multiple law review journals, the Center for American Progress, the Heritage Foundation, The Economist, SCOTUSblog and the Council of the District of Columbia Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety.

In the News


Research and Reports

  • June 22, 2020    |    Perspectives on Economic Liberty

    Barred From Working

    A Nationwide Study of Occupational Licensing Barriers for People with Criminal Records

    Earning an honest living is one of the best ways to prevent re-offending. But strict occupational licensing requirements make it harder for people with criminal records to find work, thwarting their chances of successful reentry. Along with other “collateral consequences,” like losing the right to vote or the ability to receive government assistance, individuals can be denied a license to work simply because of their criminal record.

    This report provides the most up-to-date account of occupational licensing barriers for ex-offenders and will be regularly updated whenever a state changes its laws. Using 10 distinct criteria, this report grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their legal protections for licensing applicants with criminal records. (See Methodology.)

    • The average state grade is a C. Nationwide, 10 states—Arizona, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington—plus the District of Columbia earned a B or better. Reflecting the surge of interest in this issue, 10 of those 11 jurisdictions have reformed their licensing laws since 2015.
    • The District of Columbia and Iowa tied for first. In contrast, four states—Alabama, Alaska, Nevada, and South Dakota—were tied for last, receiving a zero on a 100-point scale for their lack of protections for ex-offenders seeking licenses.
  • July 1, 2014    |    Legal and Policy Studies

    Untangling Regulations

    Natural Hair Braiders Fight Against Irrational Licensing

    Natural hair braiding is a beauty practice popular among many African, African-American and immigrant communities in the United States. But braiders in many states have to endure hundreds of hours of unnecessary coursework and pay thousands of dollars before they can legally work.

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