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July 7, 2009

Important research that could help with reentry efforts

This new article in USA Today, which is headlined "Study could ease concerns over hiring ex-offenders," provides a report on a new study that has the potential to help reentry efforts for ex-offenders.  Here are the basics: 

A study funded by the Justice Department concludes that over time accused robbers, burglars and batterers pose no greater risk to employers than job candidates in the general population.

In a review of 88,000 arrestees in New York state, Carnegie Mellon University investigators found, for example, that after about 7 1/2 years the "hazard rate" for an 18-year-old first-time arrestee for robbery declined to the same rate as an 18-year-old in the general population.  For 18-year-olds arrested for aggravated assault, it took about four years to reduce the risk.  Hazard rates are calculated based on the time the suspect remains free from re-arrest. The calculation also accounts for the fact that risk of arrest generally declines with age.

"We believe that our analysis provides the criminal justice community with the first scientific method for estimating how long is long enough for someone with a prior record" to no longer be considered a special risk, according to the study authored by Carnegie Mellon criminologist Alfred Blumstein.   Blumstein and other criminal justice analysts say the ongoing research could ease employers' concerns about hiring former offenders and perhaps spark new legislative proposals to limit the liability for employers who do hire them....

The Society for Human Resource Management estimates that 80% of U.S. employers perform background checks. An estimated 74 million criminal records were contained in automated databases across the U.S., according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. "Computerized criminal records can have long memories, and this (study) is intended to provide guidance for imposing some limits to that memory," Blumstein says.

The study focused on three offenses — robbery, burglary and aggravated assault — because they represented some of the largest sample numbers. Murder was not included in the report and will not be part of future reports, because, Blumstein says, "nobody fully redeems a murderer."

"People are finally starting to get it. They would rather see people working, than to shut people out," says Veronica Ballard, a vice president of the Safer Foundation, which helps ex-offenders find work.

Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., a sponsor of the Second Chance Act legislation designed to re-integrate offenders back into society, says any measure that might encourage potential employers to hire ex-offenders is a "powerful" tool.

July 7, 2009 at 12:44 PM | Permalink


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I remember reading somewhere that one obstacle is insurer's requirements. Doug, do you have any insight on that?

Posted by: federalist | Jul 7, 2009 12:54:13 PM

You know, when you read the article, the report seems a little half-baked. Typically, people go to jail for robbery etc. Is the 7 1/2 years after release, after arrest? And were juvenile records analyzed? If not, how do they know if the person is a "first time" arrestee? And is "first-time" really indicative of how most criminals operate? I would think it pretty rare to have a rap sheet that is solely limited to one charge of robbery.

The real problem, it seems to me, is how you get there. Someone who is arrested at 18 for robbery, does his time, and then is clean for 7 1/2 years is probably a decent risk. But employers can probably figure that out from a job history (I'm guessing the number of crooks, not gainfully employed, who stay clean for 7 1/2 years is pretty small.) The issue, it seems to me, is what we do about the guys without that 7 1/2 year history, and the article doesn't appear to deal with that.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 7, 2009 3:14:22 PM

Doug have you seen a link to the actual study? I can't find one.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Jul 7, 2009 4:10:16 PM

I looked quickly for a link and could not find it, but I will keep an eye out.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jul 7, 2009 5:47:57 PM

Anyone who has ever been convicted of a
felony, or even a misdemeanor, is running
into a brick wall whenever he or she tries
to apply for a job. The permanent punishment
of a criminal record prevents millions of
people from reentering the workplace where
they could lead productive lives, pay taxes
and support families. A large portion of
"felons" are just people who have made a
single non-violent mistake, paid for their
mistake, been punished, and are now totally
disenfranchised for life because of their
record of a conviction. Obviously, this
frustrating and harmful situation creates
despair and recidivism among many of these
people. The re-introduced "Second Chance
Non-Violent Ex-Offenders Act of 2009", which
is HR1529, would offer needed relief from
this draconian situation. Unfortunately,
in its SIXTH introduction by Congressman
Rangel, it is again languishing in
committee, unreviewed and not brought to
the House for a vote. This bill will not
cost taxpayers a dime! It will most certainly
reduce recidivism and will give hope to
thousands of families. Why is it not up
for a vote? Why hasn't Congressman Rangel
solicited co-sponsors for this good bill?
Why is he not pushing for its immediate
passage? There is no other bill which will
have as much positive effect for millions
of people as this one. Please - call your
Congressman! Urge immediate co-sponsorship,
support and passage of this bill!

Posted by: TomJenkins | Jul 7, 2009 7:51:58 PM

Thank the lawyer. The slightest mistake by the worker, the employer gets sued for negligent hiring.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 8, 2009 7:20:33 AM

Is this it?


Posted by: Deborah Marcuse | Jul 9, 2009 1:17:21 PM

Most of the ex-offender can have their normal life back because of how people treat ex-offender. Although they pay for their crimes but still looking for a job is as hard as they where in a jail. Because most of the company trace back any criminal history of their upcoming employee. We cannot blame also this company because they want also what is good for their company.
Having such law that will give ex-offender a new life will be a big help for those who really want to change.

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Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.

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