How often have you read headlines only to find it is unsupported by contents of the article? A recently released study attempts to compare work history of individuals with criminal convictions in their background to individuals with no criminal convictions in their background.
The study comes to some startling conclusions. It also identifies and supports the common sense reasons why many employers conduct background investigations.
Following is a summary of some of the major findings and our comments.
The study ( study finds ex offenders can be good works maybe ASRDraft01222016 )presents one alarming statistic – “As many as 572,000 non-fatal crimes occurred in the American workplace in a single year. These figures are staggering considering a majority of the victims whose assailants were other employees and acquaintances. “Yet, in many of these cases, the violence could have been prevented simply by conducting background checks to determine if any potential new hires had criminal records or other factors that would create a dangerous work environment.” The Recruiting Division 2013”.
“…it is estimated that roughly 8 percent of the working age population now has a felony conviction and roughly 92 million Americans have some form of criminal record (Love, 2011)”
The study appropriately reports a fact about monitoring those individuals with criminal backgrounds “Unfortunately virtually no empirical evidence exists with which to assess the workplace risk or potential of individuals with criminal records, leaving these debates largely theoretical. Reports of workplace violence, while provocative, rarely indicate a perpetrator’s criminalhttp://preemploymentscreen.com/wp/wp-admin/post-new.php background; and few workplaces track the performance of employees with criminal records.”
The Wrong Conclusion For All Employers
So then the study makes the following conclusion:
“We conclude that the military’s criminal waiver process holds promise for the civilian sector, showing that proper screening can result in success to the mutual benefit of employers and individuals with criminal histories.” “Using original data assembled from military administrative records, we follow 1.3 million ex-offender and non-offender enlistees who enlisted during the period 2002- 2009. We find that individuals who have been arrested for felony-level offenses have similar attrition rates to those with no criminal record. They are no more likely to be discharged for the negative reasons employers often assume (such as misconduct or poor work performance). In fact, the only cause of abbreviated service that appears to differ for those with and without serious criminal records is a higher rate of death in the course of service observed among our sample members with criminal records. Finally, contrary to what might be expected, we find that individuals with felony-level criminal backgrounds are promoted more quickly and to higher ranks than other enlistees. We conclude that the military’s criminal waiver process holds promise for the civilian sector, showing that proper screening can result in success to the mutual benefit of employers and individuals with criminal histories.”
Are You Kidding Me?
But are you kidding me? I can understand how you can come to this conclusion for those individuals in the military. But the conclusion seems inappropriately extended to all felons in the country working for all types of employers. Would these researchers want their spouse working with ex-felons with violent records? Would they want their children or aged parents interacting with ex-felons with violent records? I will let you come to your own conclusion. And, how can you come to this conclusion analyzing those with a history in the military? It is in our opinion absurd to assume people with criminal conviction records in the military are comparably compared to people with criminal conviction records in the general population of employers and other organizations with volunteers.
The Researchers even admit this disparity in their research article “At the same time, the military exhibits key features that distinguish it from typical civilian employers. In particular, the military represents a highly structured environment in which enlistees both live and work. For the purposes of our study, this difference could influence our findings in potentially divergent ways.”
What about the Role of Government Regulations?
And while the study mentions “Former felons are barred from a variety of occupations in childcare, healthcare, banks, insurance and security fields, with the number of licensure restrictions increasing significantly since 1970 (Love et al. 2012)”. It leaves the reader under the impression this is by choice. Whereas in contrast, many federal and state regulations require that employers NOT hire these types of individuals in occupations that expose these individuals to vulnerable members of our population.
An About Face on Their Conclusion
And then in spite of their conclusion, the authors list all the reasons why employers SHOULD continue to restrict new hires to those appropriately screened for inappropriate past behavior: “At the same time, employers may have good reason to avoid hiring those with criminal pasts.
“Many of the characteristics that lead to criminal justice involvement in the first place — criminal activity, drug and alcohol addiction, mental health problems, disadvantaged background, and lack of human and cultural capital– may also make ex-offenders poor prospects for stable employment (Grogger 1995; Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001). Each of these characteristics is arguably related to worker quality, and in some cases may be difficult to observe directly. Moreover, to the extent that the past is a strong predictor of the future, a criminal past conveys some information about the likelihood of future illegal or dangerous forms of behavior. Such behavior is of concern both for the immediate risks it poses for the workplace, as well as the possible legal liability employers may face as a result of “negligent hiring” laws (Leavitt 2001). Employers thus have reason to be concerned about hiring ex-offenders.”
The Researchers Admit They Have No Evidence
To what extent are employers’ concerns about ex-offender behavior borne out? Unfortunately, we have no direct evidence with which to answer this question directly. At the same time, we do know something about the risks of future offending more generally. For example, the number and severity of the prior offenses shows a strong relationship with the likelihood of re-offense (Barnes and Hyatt 2012).
Some Support For Going Back Five Years Instead of Seven Years in Searching For Past Criminal Convictions
Beyond these fixed characteristics, many of the relevant risk factors vary with time and context. For example, the risk of recidivism falls steadily with time since arrest, with nearly 60% of recidivism occurring within the first year (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013).
Support for Using the Green Factors in an Individualized Assessment
“A randomized evaluation of a transitional jobs program in New York City found that those who started working within three months of release from prison were roughly 22% less likely to be convicted of a new crime within three years of release than those in the control group (OPRE 2012). Likewise, a randomized evaluation of a national jobs program found that, among those over age 26, assignment to low wage employment post-release reduced the risk of rearrest by 22% (Uggen 2000). Thus, the predictive value of a criminal record is heavily influenced by contextual factors such as age, time since offense, and intervening work experience.”
In our opinion, employers and other organizations should continue to take into account the Green Factors and continue to conduct background investigations.”