Panel: The Consequences of Reforms Governing Criminal History Access
(Crime and Drugs)

Thursday, November 2, 2017: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Stetson D (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Bo Zhao, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Panel Chairs:  Bo Zhao, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
Discussants:  Benjamin Hansen, University of Oregon and Aaron Chalfin, University of Pennsylvania

Criminal Background and Job Performance
Dylan Minor, Nicola Persico and Deborah Weiss, Northwestern University

Ban the Box, Convictions, and Public Sector Employment
Terry-Ann Craigie, Connecticut College

Do Ban the Box Laws Increase Crime?
Joseph Sabia1, Dhaval Dave2, Taylor Mackay3 and Thanh Tam Nguyen1, (1)University of New Hampshire, (2)Bentley University, (3)University of California, Irvine

How to reintegrate the large number of ex-offenders into civil society is an important and challenging policy question. Ex-offenders face serious barriers when seeking legal employment, as employers often inquire about and check job applicants’ criminal histories when making interview and hiring decisions. As a result, ex-offenders tend to experience high rates of unemployment and recidivism.

Using new data and measurements, this session aims to provide employers and the general public with new evidence-based information about ex-offender productivity and to study the consequences of recent reforms across the country in employer access to criminal history. The first paper uses a proprietary dataset provided by a hiring consultancy and examines firm-level hiring practices and worker-level performance outcomes. The findings of the paper debunk the misperception of many employers about ex-offenders’ job performance. The paper lays groundwork for governments designing successful remedial strategies. The second paper uses a unique large confidential dataset linking individuals’ criminal records with their unemployment insurance quarterly wage records and examines the impact of the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information Reform, which changed employers’ access to applicants’ criminal histories, on ex-offenders’ employment and earnings. The third paper uses nationally-representative longitudinal data along with quasi-experimental methods to identify the impact of public sector Ban the Box policies on the probability of public sector employment of convicted individuals and young low-skilled minority males. The last paper examines the effects of state, county, and city Ban the Box laws on crime.

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