The James Madison Institute released Bridging the Divide: Licensing and Recidivism, a study examining the effects of occupational licensing on the recidivism in the criminal justice system, just as the Florida legislature was scrambling to pass its highest priority items in April 2019. One of those bills, H.B. 7125, included a dramatic and far reaching de-regulation of occupational licensing, a move the study’s analysis suggested could reduce the likelihood of formerly incarcerated people returning to prison by as much as two-thirds (see Figure 6). The research was timely and relevant, and is an example of how the DeVoe L. Moore Center takes creative work in the classroom and helps translate it into policy relevant research through faculty mentoring and its rigorous editorial process.
The research began as a class project by senior economics major Vittorio Nastasi. Nastasi had enrolled in an upper division applied research methods course at Florida State University (ECP 4618) taught by DeVoe Moore Center director Sam Staley. The inverted, or “flipped,” classroom format allowed Nastasi to workshop his project with faculty and fellow student for 15 weeks, allowing him to dive deep into the academic literature and broaden his research. At the end of the course, Nastasi joined the DeVoe L. Moore Center as a research assistant where he continued to develop his knowledge of the topic and sharpen his statistical analysis.
His diligence paid off. The DeVoe Moore Center reviewed more than a dozen research projects, and selected Nastasi’s work as one of four research projects it submitted for presentation at the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE) in April 2019. At the conference, he received more feedback from faculty and stimulated even more interest in his research. He presented his analysis and results as part of APEE’s undergraduate research competition, where he won Second place.
Meanwhile, the James Madison Institute, a public policy think tank based in Tallahassee, became aware of Nastasi’s research and recognized its immediate policy relevance. The DeVoe L. Moore Center and JMI partnered produce the policy brief, extending the analysis even further and tailoring it to the needs of Florida legislature and elected officials.
Nastasi graduated from Florida State University in May 2019 and is currently a policy analyst for Reason Foundation, a global think tank headquartered in Los Angeles, working on Florida policy issues.