U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

"Redemption" in an Era of Widespread Criminal Background Checks

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2009
8 pages
This article presents preliminary findings from a study that has produced sufficient data to create a model that indicates when an ex-offender has been "clean" long enough to be considered "redeemed" for employment purposes.
The analysis was based on a statistical concept called the "hazard rate," which is the probability over time that someone who has stayed "clean" will be arrested. For a person who has been arrested in the past, the hazard rate declines the longer he/she stays clean. The hazard rate was determined from two factors: age at the time of the 1980 (first) arrest and type of crime. The study determined the hazard rate for 18-year-olds when they were arrested for a first offense of one of three crimes (robbery, burglary, and aggravated assault). For robbery, the hazard rate declined to the same arrest rate for the general population of same-aged individuals at age 25.7, or 7.7 years after the 1980 robbery arrest. At that point, the probability that individuals would commit another crime was less than the probability of other 26-year-olds in the general population. Further, the analysis showed that the younger an offender was when he/she committed robbery, the longer the individual had to stay clean to reach the same arrest rate as people in the general population. The hazard rates for people who committed burglary at age 18 declined to the same as the general population somewhat earlier: 3.8 years postarrest at age 21.8. For aggravated assault, the hazard rates for the study group and the general population of same-aged individuals occurred 4.3 years postarrest or at age 22.3. As with those who committed robbery, the younger the person's age at first arrest for burglary or assault, the longer the individual had to remain clean to be the same risk for arrest as a person in the general population. 1 figure and 12 notes

Date Published: June 1, 2009