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Criminal Record Questions in the Era of "Ban the Box"

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 16 Issue: 1 Dated: 2017 Pages: 139-165
Date Published
27 pages
This study examined three central questions about criminal record inquiries on job applications, which is a rapidly developing area in criminology and public policy.

The study found the following: (1) Among the 78 percent of employers who asked about criminal records, specific application questions varied greatly regarding the severity and timing of offenses; (2) Applications for restaurant positions were least likely to inquire about criminal histories, but racially diverse workplaces and establishments in the most and least advantaged neighborhoods were more likely to ask; (3) The race gap in employer callbacks was reduced when applicants had the chance to signal not having a record by answering no, which is consistent with theories of statistical discrimination. The study recommends the development of standards and best practices regarding inquiries about juvenile offenses, low-level misdemeanor and traffic offenses, and the applicable time span. The need for such standards is apparent because of the unevenness of criminal record questions across employees, establishments, and neighborhoods. It also suggests best practices for Ban the Box implementation to help combat potential statistical discrimination against African-American men without records. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2017