Criminal Background Checks: Impact on Employment and Recidivism

Urban Institute

(November 2017)
Criminal Background Checks report cover

Criminal background checks continue to be a routine practice among many employers in the United States. According to a recent survey, almost 60 percent of employers screen job applicants for their criminal histories. According to this report's authors, despite their prevalence, criminal background checks often generate flawed or incomplete reports, with some reports failing to include conviction information.

Such flaws, the authors contend, may undermine the value of the screenings to employers and prevent suitable candidates who pose no additional risk to the public from securing a job.

This report examines criminal background checks as a significant collateral consequence for individuals involved with the justice system and explores the importance of employment to reducing recidivism.