In The Era of Checking Criminal Records, Is Redemption Possible?

Florida-Social-InvestigatorThis is about breaking down employment barriers, for the people who have criminal records, and stayed clean so they can live their lives peacefully.

To be able to understand how barriers affect the lives of people with criminal records, we need to look at the wide-spread computerization of criminal records. More than 80 percent of employers in the U.S. checks criminal records and do background checks on potential employees. These advances in information technology and growing employee liability concerns, we can now understand how issues of employing ex-offenders has become complicated.

A broad penetration of criminal records into our society leaves no doubt in the numbers. There are nearly 81 million criminal records on file while 74 million are in automated databases, and another 14 million arrests are in the criminal records every year.

What Does This Mean for Ex-Offenders Who Are in Need for A Job?Job-Line-1024x768

Every time an applicant convicted of burglary when he was just a teenager and never committed other crimes, employers will check criminal records and do background checks when the applicant did not state that he had convictions. He will probably not get the job since employers are not willing to hire ex-offenders, especially if the applicant hid the truth.

Employers have no guidance on when is the right time to consider overlooking past criminal records safe when hiring an ex-offender for a particular job. Employers always pick an arbitrary several years for when criminal records’ relevance should expire after 5 or 10 years. Different employers will have different sensitivities when it comes to criminal records of a potential employee. Those employers serving populations that are vulnerable like the elderly and children are sensitive to criminal records that involve violence.

The point is that employers have this arbitrary exercise of determining if a potential employee has non-relevant criminal records. Even though researches show steps on how to forecast a potential criminal behavior, there is no empirical basis that would decide applicants who have criminal records that are stale enough for employers to consider it irrelevant or not useful.

But now, a funded study aims to estimate point of time when applicants with criminal records are no longer a risk to society and have no intention to commit other crimes. Even though the study is still ongoing, the findings are preliminary and they created a prototype model that provides evidence on when ex-offenders has been clean long enough to consider their redemption and can finally find a job.

Where Do We Go from Here?

In the early 70s, a meeting conducted by American Society of Criminology, while computerization of criminal records was just beginning. A panelist argued against it and said that he didn’t understand the concept of redemption while another panelist challenged him, stating that criminal records on paper certainly did not understand that concept but at least computers are “taught” to understand it.

As said in the beginning of this article, the findings will represent the first evidence of the times of Redemption and how these could affect all the policies that aims to enhance the ex-offenders’ employment opportunities.


To know more about checking criminal records, visit



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