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Criminal Records, Positive Credentials and Recidivism: Incorporating Evidence of Rehabilitation Into Criminal Background Check Employment Decisions

NCJ Number
Crime & Delinquency Volume: 66 Issue: 2 Dated: 2020 Pages: 194-218
Date Published
25 pages

This study examined just over 1,000 state-mandated criminal background checks in the rapidly growing health care sector.


Decisionmakers increasingly incorporate “evidence of rehabilitation” into criminal background checks. Positive credentials can decrease criminal record stigma and improve employment outcomes; however, research is lacking on whether rehabilitative factors used in such assessments are correlated with recidivism. In the current study’s sample, everyone received an initial denial and requested reconsideration by submitting evidence of rehabilitation. The findings indicate prior employer recommendations and program completion were positively correlated with clearance to work, but conditional on contesting in the first place, none of the evidence of rehabilitation factors were negatively correlated with recidivism. Persistently pursuing an employment opportunity through a contestation process may, in itself, signal rehabilitation and lower risk. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020