Evaluating The Impact of “Old” Criminal Record Policies on Employment Outcomes
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This study provides the first causal estimates of the impact of a time since last conviction policy on employment outcomes for individuals with prior conviction records. This policy is evaluated within the specific context of New York State Department of Health’s mandated criminal history background check process for individuals who are provisionally hired to work in direct access care jobs in nursing homes and home health care firms. In this background check process, individuals with “old” criminal history records—defined as 10 years or longer since last conviction—should be cleared unless other evidence indicates this person presents an “unreasonable risk” to property, safety, or welfare. This policy results in a 20 percentage point jump in the probability of clearance at the 10 year threshold. Using a fuzzy regression discontinuity approach, we generate estimates of the impact of clearance on employment and earnings. Due to small sample sizes near the threshold, we supplement these analyses with instrumental variable and fixed effects instrumental variable methods.
Similar to findings from the broader sample (Bushway, Denver, and Kurlychek 2015), clearance has a positive impact on employment and earnings for individuals influenced by the 10 year since last conviction policy. Even though individuals in this sample had high levels of employment on average prior to DOH’s background check, and those denied clearance could potentially obtain employment in other industries with shorter time since last conviction policies, the bump in clearance from this 10 year rule generates benefits for individuals with records. While these findings cannot speak to the employment benefit/risk of recidivism tradeoff, they contribute to the policy conversation surrounding time since last offense rules by providing estimates of the potential benefits on the employment opportunities side.