The Most Felon Friendly States 2018-02-15T16:34:39+00:00
Image of the united states and the caption "felon friendly states."

After release from prison, many felons face choices most of us do not think about. Due to their incarceration, the average felon has lost their previous job, maybe even their previous home, and, once released, are free to start again…perhaps even in a brand new state.

For some, this is an excellent opportunity to move far away, to get a truly clean slate. But then the question arises, which state to move to? When making this decision, it’s worthwhile to consider which states are the most felon friendly states. Thus, this article will help offer some pointers on choosing the most felon friendly states.

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The Most Felon Friendly States

Obviously for most newly freed convicts, the first factor to think about is employment. Are there good job opportunities waiting in the new state or is unemployment high? How competitive is the job market? Felons already have a strike against them when applying for new positions, and many employers will be skittish to consider hiring someone with a criminal background, especially depending on the severity of the convicted offense and the job being applied for.

While it is always advisable to be as open and forthcoming as possible on a job application, it’s also worth noting that, if they do not specifically ask about prior convictions, and if there’s no required background check, then it may not even be an issue. However, many jobs require working in a sensitive area, or with handling funds, or dealing with the public in some specific manner which will require a background check. Any career dealing with children, education, health care or care of the disabled or elderly, law enforcement, finance, etc, are all good candidates for close scrutiny. Thus it’s good to know which states limit how far back a background check can go in each state.

Background Check Limitations in US States

Some states don’t allow employers to check further than seven years back, so if your incident occurred over seven years ago, it may not come up during your application processing. So we can consider these states with the limitations to be the most felon friendly states.


Background checks, as noted, aren’t done exactly the same in every location. Yes, there are federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission laws applicable to background checks, and how the information derived from these may be used during the employment hiring process. But states have their own laws, too.

As we’ve seen in most of our articles, states nearly always have their own unique guidelines regarding how they handle felons. Indeed municipalities may have variations of both state and federal laws (a municipality being a “primarily urban political unit having corporate status and usually powers of self-government”). In other words, individual cities might play differently than their neighboring cities, so that’s something to think about.

Another consideration to be aware of is that, if a felon lives in one state but is applying for employment in another, then the background check rules will be based on whichever state has the most strict rules. So it may behoove the applicant to go ahead and settle within the borders of the state they want to work, if possible. Sometimes people live close to a state line and may own a home on one side but want to work on the other. So a little bit of homework might be in order, if this is your situation and you don’t want to give up the house just to land that new job.

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List of The Most Felon Friendly States

This is a complete list of states with a 7 year background exceptions. it is very important to understand that some states have what’s called a salary cap exemption, meaning the exemption isn’t offered if a person’s expected salary is over a certain range, usually $20,000 but some states go as high as $75,000. The states which limit background checks to 7 years are:

  • California – No Salary cap
  • Colorado – $75,000 per year salary cap
  • Kansas – $20,000 per year salary cap
  • Maryland – $20,000 per year salary cap
  • Massachusetts – $20,000 per year salary cap
  • Montana – No Salary Cap
  • Nevada – $20,000 per year salary cap
  • New Hampshire – $20,000 per year salary cap
  • New Mexico – $20,000 per year salary cap
  • New York – $25,000 per year salary cap
  • Texas – $75,000 per year salary cap
  • Washington – $20,000 per year salary cap

These are the best states for felons to live in, all others do NOT limit how far back an employer can run a background check.

Felony Expungement – In a number of states it is possible to have your felony conviction either expunged or sealed. Imagine having your record swiped clean! Learn more here.

We hope this article helps you have a clearer picture of how background checks for employment differ from state to state, and how a few stand out as the most felon friendly states in America. Best of luck in your job hunting!