Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $247,554)
This project is an extension of an ongoing NIJ-funded project intended to provide the first empirical estimates of what the grantee calls 'redemption time,' the time when an individual with a prior arrest record has stayed clean of further involvement with the criminal justice system to be considered 'redeemed' and relieved of the stale burden of a prior criminal record. This research is of increasing relevance to State and local policy makers because of the growing concern over the large number of people handicapped from employment because of a stale criminal-history record. Addressing this issue should contribute to improved re-entry and reduction of correctional populations as former offenders have better employment prospects.
The grantee generated estimates using 80,000 rap sheets from New York State on individuals first arrested in 1980. The grantee generated those estimates using the hazard rate (the probability of an arrest after staying clean for a specified number of years) under two comparison standards:
(1) Compared to individuals in New York of the same age using the age-crime curve (T*)
(2) 'Close enough' to the hazard of people never-arrested (T**)
A paper on these results has been published in May 2009 issue of Criminology, the premier journal of the American Society of Criminology, and also in the June 2009 issue of the NIJ Journal, targeted particularly at a practitioner and policy audience.
The grantee has interacted extensively with a variety of stakeholders on this issue (organizations representing individuals denied job because of a stale record, employers, EEOC, state criminal history repositories, and commercial providers of criminal-history records) and have found considerable recognition of the importance of our work, and have received a number of suggestions on how to make the work more useful. Some general suggestions relate to ensuring the robustness of the grantee's results. This requires comparing the estimates the grantee derives from the 1980 NY arrestees with the following:
' First arrests in different sampling years, including 1985 and 1990 in particular, where the rates differ considerably.
' First arrests from different states, anticipating collecting rap sheets at least Florida and Wisconsin, in particular.
' Comparing results of people convicted with those merely arrested.
' Number of prior arrests before the interval of time clean.
' Accounting for arrests outside the state by using the FBI's national database, to which the grantee has been given access.
The grantee's previous results were based on all arrestees. Because racial bias is an important consideration to the EEOC, the grantee plans to generate hazard rate estimates for whites and blacks. While the grantee recognizes that there are important differences between the races in initial arrests, they anticipate that the differences in hazard rates will be appreciably lower and will diminish over time. Thus, it becomes important to demonstrate those smaller differences in redemption times. While their previous hazard rates are for a new arrest of any crime type, they recognize that most employers differ in crime types they care about, based on the industry and the job positions. Thus, the grantee plans to estimate redemption times as a function of the potential recidivist's crime type.