Perceived criminality criminal background checks and the racial hiring preferences of employers
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Perceived Criminality, Criminal Background Checks and the Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers. Harry J. Holzer Georgetown University Steven Raphael UC Berkeley Michael A. Stoll UCLA. Collateral Consequences of Imprisonment. Individual Employment

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Perceived criminality criminal background checks and the racial hiring preferences of employers l.jpg

Perceived Criminality, Criminal Background Checks and the Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers

Harry J. Holzer

Georgetown University

Steven Raphael

UC Berkeley

Michael A. Stoll

UCLA


Collateral consequences of imprisonment l.jpg
Collateral Consequences of Imprisonment Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers

Individual

  • Employment

  • Public Assistance, Voting, Public Housing, Driver’s Licenses, Adoptive and Foster Parenting, Student Loans

    Community

  • Neighborhoods, families, health, state budgets

  • Groups with High Incarceration Levels


Why are employers adverse to hiring ex offenders l.jpg
Why Are Employers Adverse to Hiring Ex-Offenders? Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers

  • Reluctant to hire ex-offenders

    • May steal or harm customers

    • Imperfect monitoring of employees-premium on trustworthiness

  • Certain occupations are legally closed to applicants with prior felony convictions

  • Protect against lawsuits

    • Legally liable for criminal actions of employees - theory of negligent hiring


  • Correlates of employer aversion to ex offenders l.jpg
    Correlates of Employer Aversion to Ex-Offenders Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers

    • Smaller establishments

    • Service and FIRE sectors (Manufacturing open to hiring)

    • Customer Contact

    • Use Informal Recruiting Methods

    • Unwilling to hire other “disadvantaged groups”


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    Potential Mechanisms to Act on Aversion Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers

    • Use of Criminal Background Checks

    • Statistical discrimination


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    Do employers have access to criminal records? Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers

    • Records of arrests, convictions, and time served are housed in state central repositories.

    • In general, states are more likely to give out information on conviction than arrest.

    • The U.S. DOJ recently concluded that criminal history record information is becoming more available to non-criminal justice users.

    • Several firms advertise on the internet, offering nationwide criminal background checks for as little as $15.


    Use of criminal background checks l.jpg
    Use of Criminal Background Checks Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers

    • larger firms

    • industries with more customer contact (retail trade, service and FIRE)

    • increasing over time

    • mostly from private sources


    Effect of checks on black hiring ambiguous l.jpg
    Effect of Checks on Black Hiring Ambiguous Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers

    • Checking employers more likely to eliminate Black applicants since they are more likely to have criminal history records

    • Non-checking employers may infer likelihood of past conviction based on race (perceived criminality)


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    Description of the data Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers

    Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality

    • Conducted between June 1992 and May 1994 in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, and Los Angeles

    • Sample of firms generated from two sources: (1) a concurrent household survey, and (2) a sample of firms purchased from Survey Samples Incorporated (SSI).

    • SSI list was stratified by establishment size and sampled according to the distribution of employment across size categories.

    • Telephone surveys were conducted with the person at the firm in charge of hiring for firms that have hired into a position not requiring a college degree in the last three years.

    • The response rate for successfully screened firms was 67 percent.


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    Other Major Findings Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers

    • Effects stronger for firms unwilling to hire ex-offenders and for smaller firms

    • Pattern not explained by application patterns

    • Similar effect for those with spotty work history


    Conclusions l.jpg
    Conclusions Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers

    • Employers who use checks more likely to hire black applicants than employers who do not.

    • Implies that adverse consequences of checks on those with criminal histories is more than offset by positive effects of eliminating statistical discrimination.

    • More true for firms unwilling to hire ex-offenders


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    What to Do to Raise Employment? Racial Hiring Preferences of Employers

    • Supports for Reentry

    • Reverse Bans on Financial Aid and Public Assistance

    • Employment Bans Based on Content of Criminal History, Not Blanket Use

    • Conviction Not Arrest Records

    • Ensure Accuracy of Records

    • Incentivise Desistance-Expunge Certain Records After Fixed Time Period

    • Indemnify Employers – Bonds, Not in Blanket Fashion

    • Re-examine Federal, State and Local Employment/Licensing Restrictions

    • Child Support