Home / Bureaucracy / Dueling Bureaucracies: The Story of an Ex-Con Non-Barber
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Dueling Bureaucracies: The Story of an Ex-Con Non-Barber

Written by Gary North on June 18, 2012

Basic to any accurate understanding of bureaucracy is this: there is no way to coordinate separate bureaucracies. So, when one bureaucracy pursues a goal, another bureaucracy threatens it.

A recent case of dueling bureaucracies was a Texas convict who was trained inside the prison to be a barber. This is one of the best jobs a convict can get in prison. It is one of the few skills that is transferable to the outside world.

The problem is, in the outside world, another group of bureaucrats control entry into professions. The barbers’ licensing bureaucracy has controlled entry for decades. Its goal is to restrict entry, to keep the supply low and wages high.

The convict was Lynn Mays. He was released in March 2010. He had received an 8-year sentence for aggravated sexual assault.

For obvious reasons, ex-cons have a hard time getting legitimate jobs after their release. This is especially true of jobs that require state licensing. Some of these bureaucracies bar ex-cons for years — up to ten years.

This of course adds to the likelihood that they will wind up in prison again.

Mays worked as a cook. This is a common ex-con career. There are no licensing requirements. Also, they are kept away from the cash register.

Mays got laid off. The restaurant closed.

He did lawn care..

A government agency paid for him to get training to become a barber. He passed a written exam. Then he applied for a license. He was turned down. Why? The official explanation: “Barbers have direct contact with members of the general public, often in settings with no one else present, and a person with a predisposition for crimes involving prohibited sexual conduct would have the opportunity to engage in further similar conduct.” The commission was not sure he had been rehabilitated.

The best sign of successful rehabilitation is a man’s willingness to get a job.

Mays appealed his case. “They paid for me to go to barber school. They bought my supplies. They paid for my test. And not only did they pay for my barber license, but also my booth permit. They gave me the gas to get here today.” This made sense. Bureaucrats do not always respond to logic.

“When I was incarcerated, I was in a correctional facility that was run by the State of Texas. Taxpayer money paid for programs that are called rehabilitation programs, therapeutic programs, that I successfully went through,” he said. “I’m here because I want to work. I’m asking for a chance to prove the system works.”

The commissioners voted 4-0 to deny Mays’ license.

And so it goes.

The losers: the victims of crime and the taxpayers who pay to run the prisons.

Other losers: people who want cheaper haircuts.

Continue Reading on www.statesman.com

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5 thoughts on “Dueling Bureaucracies: The Story of an Ex-Con Non-Barber

  1. EHeassler USN-Ret. says:

    This is just one more case where government officials speak out of both sides of their mouths. They tell the convict to use his time in prison wisely, rehabilitate yourself so that when you get out you can get a job, support yourself and your family and avoid a further life of crime and incarceration. Once out, its, "Oh, we're not going to let you work because you're and ex-convict and you might commit further crimes." I thought the United States was a place where redemption not only in the eyes of God is possible, but in the eyes and judgement of the state. So what is going to happen? The ex-con starts giving cut-rate haircuts in a back room somewhere until a licensed barber drops the dime on him. Then he gets arrested and sent back to prison where he will he will be considered non-rahabilitatable becaues he's a recidivist. Go figure!

  2. Bill McCroskey says:

    Anyone that has EVER dealt with many government agencies and their employees will not be surprised by this story. As Dr. North suggests this is the classic 'lose-lose' situation.

  3. one word: tyranny. When government fears the people there is no tyranny. Then people fear the government, tyranny is well entrenched. What we have here is a government agency drunk with the "power" invested in it by some other government agency. Thus we have situations like the TSA committing acts against WE THE PEOPLE of the sort that got this man incarcerated in the first place. We have EPA stealing people's land on some flimsy ruse that they are bound to protect us from some mosters in the shed somewhere.

    And when some take up the cry "shink the government, get it off our backs", government digs in all the more firmly and says : we're here to help you". No thanks, I am quite capable of deciding whether I want to drink raw whole milk or get the chemical white liquied from the grocery store. Meanwhile, government agencies dispatch SWAT teams to incarcerate those who are so audacious as to neglect to process whole, raw milk into the "acceptable" form for "public consumption". Pardon me, but I thought I WAS part of the public who consume things.

  4. Jerri Lynn Ward says:

    Humanist government has no conception of repentance and redemption.

  5. Texasgal says:

    This is a case of "Damed if youdo…damed if you don't"
    As a retired Corrections Officer in Texas, I worked in a State Jail for males and I've seen this happen many times. An inmate is trained, released and back again in a very short time…the reason and no this is not #1, but a close second:
    " I couldn't get a job so here I am".