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Consideration of Criminal Records in Hiring Decisions

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2015
2 pages
After noting the importance of employment in reducing recidivism among ex-offenders, this paper reviews the features and effectiveness of State legislative efforts to facilitate employment opportunities for ex-offenders.
The National Reentry Resource Center, a project of The Council of State Government (CSG) Justice Center, is working with the National Employment Law Project to provide broad-based education, training, and resources to policymakers who want to implement effective legislation and policies to increase employment opportunities for ex-offenders. Among a broad menu of reforms deemed "fair-chance" laws is a policy called "ban the box," which would prohibit employers from requiring criminal-record information unrelated to an applicant's ability to perform the job at issue. In addition, when criminal-record information is relevant to the job to be performed, employers would be required to give applicants an opportunity to explain their criminal record. As of October 2015, 19 States representing nearly every region of the Nation have adopted policies that delay conviction-history inquiries. Seven States have removed the conviction inquiry from job applications of private employers. In addition, major employers have removed the conviction question from their job applications. Although there has been limited formal tracking of the results of these "fair-chance" mandates, existing data indicate an increase in the hiring of people with criminal records. Fiscal and implementation considerations associated with fair-chance laws are discussed.

Date Published: October 1, 2015