- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois regulators are making it easier for prisoners on the verge of release to apply for state barber and cosmetology licenses while they remain behind bars.

The Illinois departments of corrections and financial and professional regulation announced a new measure this week allowing inmates who’ve completed coursework for those licenses to apply for state certification within six months of their expected release or parole.

Inmates will meet with the state licensing boards by video conference.

Officials say the move will reduce employment barriers for ex-offenders and is a response to a state Criminal Justice and Sentencing Commission recommendation.

Offenders were previously not allowed to start the application process until they were released.

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