Criminal Background Checks and Recidivism: Evidence from Direct Access Care in New York State
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This paper takes the next step by performing a recidivism analysis on the same sample of individuals with a conviction record who face the DOH background check. There appears to be no plausible exogenous variation in who obtains the clearance decision, but using detailed institutional knowledge about the DOH’s background screening process, we build structural assumptions on the potential outcomes for different sub-samples in our data. Based on these assumptions, we are able to partially identify the average treatment effects for our sample, controlling for all observable information. Using a denial in the background check as the treatment, our estimates indicate that on an average, being denied to work based on a criminal background increases the likelihood of a re-arrest by 1.3 to 2.2 percentage points in the following three years. We also perform an analysis on short term outcomes, estimating the impact on arrests one year post DOH's decision. Although the upper bound on the average treatment effects is small in the short term, we do find heterogeneous upper bounds, suggesting that much of the average effect is coming from one sub-sample of the population. Policy implications of these results are discussed.