Criminal Record Questions in the Era of “Ban the Box”

Mike Vuolo, Sarah Lageson, Christopher Uggen, 16 Criminology & Public Policy 139

(February 2017)
Criminal Record Questions in the Era of "Ban the Box"

This study examines three central questions about criminal record inquiries on job applications, which, according to its authors, is a rapidly developing area in criminology and public policy.

The authors find the following:

  1. Among the 78% of employers who ask about records, specific application questions vary greatly regarding the severity and timing of offenses.
  2. Applications for restaurant positions are least likely to inquire about criminal histories, whereas racially diverse workplaces and establishments in the most and least advantaged neighborhoods are more likely to ask.
  3. The race gap in employer callbacks is reduced when applicants have the chance to signal not having a record by answering “no,” which is consistent with theories of statistical discrimination.