Is Redemption Possible after a Criminal Conviction?
Date:  04-11-2013

Yes, claims a new study, but employers rarely consider it
Getting out of prison is supposed to open the door to a new life and new opportunities. Unfortunately, most reentrants have to navigate an obstacle course of barriers that make successful reentry difficult to achieve. Barriers to employment are one of the most significant problems reentrants face.

Employers are often reluctant to hire someone with a past criminal conviction, even when the conviction happened years or decades before. Some employers believe that an individual with a criminal history should not be considered for a job under any circumstance. Others are reluctant to hire someone with a criminal record because some employers fear that if an employee with a criminal past causes harm to another worker or client the employer can be held responsible for negligent hiring practices.

Criminal background checks are a tool more and more employers are using to make hiring decisions. Sometimes the decision not to hire is based on false information. A study found that many background check companies have inaccurate records (see Reentry Central 8-16-2012, Broken Records: How Criminal Background Check Companies Get it Wrong and Ruin Lives). The odds for being hired are stacked against someone with a criminal history. But can a person with a criminal conviction ever find redemption? The answer is "yes."

A new study, Extension of Current Estimates of Redemption Times: Robustness Testing, Out–of-State Arrests, and Racial Differences, examines the process of redemption.The study's authors, Alfred Blumstein and Kiminori Nakamura tell us:

“As information technology has increased the accessibility of criminal-history records, and concern for negligent-hiring lawsuits has grown, criminal background checking has become an important part of the hiring process for most employers. As a result, there is a growing concern that a large number of individuals are handicapped in finding employment because of a stale criminal-history record.

The current study is an extension of a NIJ-funded project intended to provide the empirical estimates of what we call “redemption time,” the time when an individual with a prior arrest record has stayed clean of further involvement with the criminal justice system sufficiently long to be considered “redeemed” and relieved of the stale burden of a prior criminal-history record. In the current study, we address new issues that that are important in moving the research on redemption forward and making the findings applicable to relevant policy.”

Source: Fortune Society

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