Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2007, $33,200)
This study that will use an experimental audit methodology to estimate the effects of low-level records and race on employment prospects, and interviews with employers (incorporating mediated audit techniques) to learn more about their sensitivity to differences in the severity, timing, and nature of the criminal record. The proposal builds upon the previous work of Devah Pager using an established methodology to understand the impact of having a criminal record on employer's hiring decisions. This previous work focused upon the affect of a felony record while the proposed study will focus on those individuals having a record (particularly of arrests only) of only non-serious misdemeanor offenses. The potential differential employment decisions across racial groups are also a central focus of this research. Employers today often have access to applicants' criminal records, even for misdemeanor cases that never resulted in formal charges. It is unknown to what extent employers consider low-level offense records in making hiring decisions. If it is true that low-level offense records are effectively disqualifying individuals from consideration for employment, it would provide a strong argument for limiting public accessibility to such records, particularly those which were resolved in the defendants' favor (i.e. never officially charged, dismissed, or found not guilty). Employment is thought to be important in promoting desistance from criminal activity.