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Redeemed Compared to Whom?: Comparing the Distributional Properties of Arrest Risk Across Populations of Provisional Employees With and Without a Criminal Record

NCJ Number
Date Published
Samuel E. DeWitt, Shawn D. Bushway, Garina Siwach, Megan C. Kurlychek
After determining that existing standards for a “reasonable amount of [arrest] risk” used by employers to assess provisional employees is too onerous for such employees with or without criminal records, this article proposes an alternative method of assessing arrest risk across these populations.
Several alternative standards are proposed, illustrating that they clear a demonstrable majority of employees without records and a sizable minority of those with a criminal history and (b) do not increase the risk incurred by employers over and above the level they already accept among employees without records. The findings suggest that the almost singular importance placed on “time since last” policies when conducting criminal background checks is ill-placed, as the risk of arrest across populations of employees with and without criminal histories overlaps more than the results of extant research would imply. Although future research needs to be conducted to ascertain whether the findings reported generalize to other employment contexts, current background- check practices would be better served if they were to adopt an approach that chooses a specific threshold for comparison, which should align with an easily communicated and face-valid cost function. Furthermore, the selected standard should (a) hold all individuals to the same standard and (b) be one that a demonstrable majority of individuals without criminal records can meet. (Publisher abstract modified)
Date Created: February 18, 2019