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May 23, 2016

"An Experimental Study of the Effectiveness of Certificates of Recovery as Collateral Consequence Relief Mechanisms"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper now available via SSRN authored by Peter Leasure and Tia Stevens Andersen. Here is the abstract:

Securing stable, quality employment is one of the most robust predictors of desistance from offending. Yet, obtaining gainful employment is difficult for ex-offenders due to the stigma of a criminal record. In recognition of employment-related barriers to re-entry, some state legislatures have created certificates of recovery/relief, which lift occupational licensing restrictions, limit employer liability for negligent hiring claims, and aim to ensure employment decisions about certificate-holders are made on a case-by-case basis.

The present study presents the results of the first empirical test of the effectiveness of such certificates. Using an experimental correspondence design, fictitious applicants applied to entry-level jobs advertised in the Columbus metropolitan area using fabricated resumes with identical names, educational backgrounds, employment experience, and skills. Because the only differences between the resumes were the type of criminal record and the presence of a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE), the results isolate the specific impacts of criminal records and certificates on employment opportunities. Results indicate that, for job seekers with a one-year-old felony drug conviction, having a certificate of recovery increases the likelihood of receiving an interview invitation or job offer more than threefold. Importantly, certificate-holders and their counterparts with clean criminal backgrounds were equally likely to receive an interview invitation or job offer. These promising preliminary results suggest certificates of recovery/relief may be an effective avenue for lessening the stigma of a criminal record for ex-offenders seeking employment.

May 23, 2016 at 10:55 PM | Permalink


Yeah, a certificate of rehabilitation will do about as much as a note from your mom in getting you a job with a conviction record!
Who are we kidding with these studies?

Posted by: kat | May 24, 2016 10:06:30 AM


The described methodology of submitting fictitious applications for real jobs seems like a reasonable way to get real-world data. And even better is that looking at the paper such studies have been performed numerous times dating back to 1962.

One thing I notice is that they say they generated applications with favorable prior work history, I wonder how well that generalizes to the actual convict population.

Seeing as how the earlier studies show a curve of seriousness of offense to contact rates I would also be curious about whether the effectiveness of the CoR drops off as the perceived seriousness of the crime increases, and at what point any such drop-off is reached. Or even to what degree the nature of the offense matters to whether a CorR is effective (burglary instead of a drug crime, for example).

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | May 24, 2016 1:42:49 PM

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