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Potential of Redemption in Criminal Background Checks

NCJ Number
Date Published
Alfred Blumstein, Kiminori Nakamura
This report examines the issues associated with the increased trend in employer-conducted criminal background checks.
Review of crime reports indicate that in 2007, law enforcement agencies in the United States made over 14 million arrests, and that as of December 31, 2006, over 81 million criminal history records were contained in State criminal history repositories. Due to the increase in automation, by the end of 2006, about 91 percent of these criminal history records were electronically accessible. This situation has increased the ability of employers and others to conduct criminal background checks on potential employees and individuals. At the same time, the increased access to criminal history records means that individuals who have led a “clean” life since their arrest, may be faced with hardships in finding employment. The goal of this research project is to provide guidance on the issues surrounding the increased use of criminal background checks. The report discusses the recent trends in the use of criminal background checks and addresses the lack of guidelines for employers to help them understand how the age of the criminal record relates to the level of risk of a new crime. The report also examines the problem of redemption and the need for empirically-based research to address this issue. Figures, tables, and references
Date Created: November 22, 2010