How bad is it to hire an ex-con?

…individuals with criminal records have an involuntary separation rate that is no higher than that of other employees and a voluntary separation rate that is much lower. Employees with a criminal record do have a slightly higher overall rate of discharge for misconduct than do employees without a record, although we find increased misconduct only for sales positions. We also find that firms that do not use information about criminal backgrounds seem to compensate by placing more weight on qualifications that are correlated with a criminal record, such as low educational attainment.

That is from a new paper by Dylan Minor, Nicola Persico, and Deborah M. Weiss.


The Trump Administration will agree.

Hillary is back to SOS?

I think there are definite incentive problems with regard to hiring ex-cons. I'm speculating, but I imagine as an employer if you hire an ex-con and he does something terrible you and your business could end up with serious liability issues that wouldn't exist with a clean employee. I don't think Democrats are inclined to offend the trial bar by limiting this liability and Republicans are probably less inclined to help ex-cons for whatever stereotypical reason you want to insert.

I'd like to incentivize hiring ex-cons, but not sure how you do it given the political calculus. You are also probably never going to be willing to pay an ex-con $15/hour for a first job.

Just make it illegal to ask or inquire about a criminal conviction beyond X years (10?), and limit background checks to the same period. That removes the liability you spoke of, and then the company isn't hiring an ex-con, they're hiring a person who passed the background check with no applicable criminal record.

Some positions would obviously need some exceptions (pedophiles shouldn't be teachers), with the emphasis being limited exemptions.

Illegal to search the internet then? Too fascist for me.

Buy them a ticket to Sweden. Money well spent, no takebacksies.

This year the city government of Austin, Texas 'banned the box' on job applications and...forced Uber and Lyft to do fingerprint criminal background checks on their drivers (after which the services left the city).

You mean Uber and Lyft chose to do fingerprint criminal background checks on their drivers?

Nevermind. I thought you saying one caused the other.

>I’d like to incentivize hiring ex-cons

Really, now. You want to give employers some kind of bonus for hiring someone with a criminal record instead of someone who is a law-abiding citizen.

When it's put that way, you sound like a real dope, wouldn't you agree?

So the punishment for a single criminal violation isn't just a jail term or fine, it's a lifetime of reduced employment opportunity. When people say that the US isn't a Christian nation, they're correct. The two most important tenets of Christianity are forgiveness and redemption. Neither are in evidence the US of A.

One of the downsides of being a bad person is being treated like a bad person

God forgives, because she knows who sincerely asks for forgiveness and who is BSing

Don't hurt other people. Then other people won't ostracize you.

it's easy.

Is me smoking weed hurting other people?
Have you NEVER hurt another person?

Get off your high horse.

Nobody gets a felony for smoking pot, and NO, I've never hurt someone that I'd go to jail for.

Get off your high.

Let the Christian businesses hire them. This actually happens, of course.

Setting aside your arrogant presumption to be the definitive interpreter of Christianity, since when does forgiving mean forgetting?

Would it be a better world if ex-cons could get jobs? All else being equal, sure.

Would a particular way of bringing that about (like banning employers checking criminal records, or incentivizing hiring felons) make the world a better place? Not necessarily.

What could possibly go wrong if we subsidize the hiring of ex-cons? Don't worry, we have solved the problem of unintended consequences!

It depends. A majority of convicted felons have serious mental problems that are still problems after they have served their time. They are ticking time bombs. It also depends on what the crime was AND what kind of individual the person was before the crime. Some number of criminals commit a crime and never again do anything illegal or improper again in their lifetime. The problem is identifying which is which. But if you want to see ex-felons succeed in integrating back into society you must give them a chance and that means they must have a job. It would be money well spent for the system to make sure that released felons get a decent chance to succeed.

If you could optimally compensate employees, then in a profit-maximizing equilibrium the involuntary and voluntary separation rate should be equal for the criminal and non-criminal-record population, right?

If I am thinking about this right, the lower voluntary separation rate suggests employers are paying employees with criminal records more than they need to (absent consideration of relevant laws).

Seems to me that lower voluntary separation rates is due to the difficulty of finding a new/different job as an ex-con. Some companies are probably still unwilling to gamble on you even though you have some relevant experience and have shown you're not as likely to relapse to previous criminal behavior. Knowing how difficult it could be to get a new job, ex-cons are probably unwilling to take a risk outside of an employer that's shown it is willing to hire them.

Could have put that a lot simpler: The available job-pool to ex-cons is smaller, so less options = less moving around

Yeah I think that is the case, but shouldn't employers therefore be able to pay those ex-cons less? If a non-con and ex-con have the same marginal product, but the ex-con is far less likely to voluntarily leave because of the risk that others won't offer him a job, shouldn't the employer be able to pay the ex-con less?

Probably in theory, but maybe not in practice. People who feel they're being treated unfairly don't make good employees.

I could buy that explanation. I could also buy that it's because of minimum wage law - if ex-cons tend to cluster towards the minimum or just-above-minimum wage, then it could be that legal barrier rather than the "I'm pissed because Jim is making more than me" psychological barrier that is leading to this result. I didn't have time to read the paper, but I searched for "wage" and "salary" and "pay" and didn't find anything, so I don't think it's addressed.

The British firm that is famous for hiring ex-cons is said to be very successful. Its business is to cut spare keys for people.

Maybe people hiring are just good at telling a good ex-con from a bad ex-con. Except maybe sales managers...

So, the conclusion is that the hiring penalty for ex-cons successfully balances out the fact that ex-cons are a worse pool of prospectives than the general population?

I mean, if ex-cons seeking a job were just as good a pool of potential hires as the general population, holding the ex-cons to higher standards should result in the ex-cons that manage to get hired being better-than-average employees. if ex-cons hired only make as-good employees as non-cons hired, though, it suggests the level of filtering is correctly making sure that only the ex-cons as good as the non-cons are getting hired.

Agreed, this is the correct takeaway. Impressive efficiency on the part of HR

Well, there is an alternative theory that first the same facts:

A -- Felons are just as good a pool of potential hires as anyone else.
B -- Hiring polices are no better able to distinguish potentially good employees from bad ones than random chance.

In that case, what you should do is use a random-number generator to make hiring decisions rather than waste any time or money on evaluation and hiring decisions.

Story time. I have two friends (they don't know each other). Both were caught with an illegal substance just after high school. One was prosecuted the other was not. The one that was not prosecuted went on to work as a geologists for BP. The one that was prosecuted and has a criminal record is now waiting tables at a restaurant. With really no hope of gainful employment.

Without knowing a lot, lot more about these two individuals, that anecdote is pretty pointless.

Don't worry; I'm sure the friends were twins, and the decision to prosecute was made at random.

There's a lot of crap that passes for felony crimes which shouldn't be. On the other hand, our criminal (and civil!) justice system is so screwed up the fact that it functions so well should be a source of astonishment. I've read all sorts of statistics about recidivism rates. They appear to be quite high from what I gather. If an ex-convict is more likely to commit a felony than one without that on their record, is it rational to ignore that when making the hiring decision? That is part of the picture. There are other ingredients including intellectual capacities, emotional stability, and the effect on other workers to the presence of a felon in the workplace and similarly with its effect on your customers. Everything else being equal, when you take your 6 year old in to get new shoes, would you be indifferent in choosing between a salesman with a murder conviction and one without to wait on you? Would a preference be rational? To bad we don't have "Big Data" to tag certain offenses and offenders as "benign" and others as "problematical" after the felon has served his/(her) full term. Perhaps what's needed is more discrimination, not less. All felons (and all felonies) are not created equal. It isn't clear to me that given all the serious problems with our criminal justice system, that unfair treatment of ex-con felons is high on the list. Is it low hanging fruit?

Every felon commits a felony for the first time. Until then he's OK, right? Felons may also commit a number of crimes before they're apprehended and convicted of one. They're OK until that conviction, too. How do you know that the salesman fitting your 6 year-old with new shoes didn't strangle his neighbor's daughter and bury her in the petunia patch earlier that day?

Many criminals have indeed committed other crimes before being caught and successfully prosecuted, which makes it all the more appropriate to have a more negative view of ex-cons.

Actually, it makes even more appropriate to have a dim view of you, who've probably done more than your share of child molestation and petty thievery without being caught.

How much is my share of child molestation and petty thievery? I don't want to go over.

High recidivism rates among offenders is a good clue that prior crimes were probably committed undetected, making a conviction a more reliable indicator of bad character.

"How bad is it to hire an ex-con?"

Well it might be somewhat bad to hire a former convict? But the really topical question is how bad is it to hire a former Trump voter?

"The CEO of Grubhub, an online food delivery service, sent a company wide email Wednesday suggesting employees who agree with President-elect Donald Trump’s behaviors and his campaign rhetoric should resign.

“If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here,” wrote Matt Maloney, Co-Founder of Grubhub. “We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team.""

Odd, saying to someone that "you have no place here" seems like a pretty "hateful attitude" to me.

Among the lowest form of scum are those who try to threaten others' livelihood over their political views. May the world note that I think Matt Maloney is scum.

He did not state anything about political views .

He referred to behaviours and tactics. Which would be highly toxic on just about any team.

In an alternative world where Hillary Clinton won the election, would it be okay if a startup CEO sent the same letter to his employees, but targeted at those who'd voted for Clinton?

If they cited Clinton's behavior -- don't even think about conducting company business using your personal email -- then fine. Not even controversial, really. Just as it isn't controversial that most people would get fired for any number of things Trump has said and done once word got back to HR. The tone of the message is self-righteous but the basic idea isn't unusual.

I wonder if he, being offended by building a wall, leaves the company's doors unlocked over night. Sounds like some fiduciary issues where he may need to step down.

"If they cited Clinton’s behavior — don’t even think about conducting company business using your personal email — then fine."

So are we willing to admit that Clinton's behavior was a firing offense, now?

From the text of his email:

"Further I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can. As we all try to understand what this vote means to us, I want to affirm to anyone on our team that is scared or feels personally exposed, that I and everyone else here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and your right to make a better life for yourself and your family here in the United States.

If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team.I want to repeat what Hillary said this morning, that the new administration deserves our open minds and a chance to lead, but never stop believing that the fight for what's right is worth it."

You are telling me "the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump" is not a reference to political views?

OMG, they are melting down.

My FB is full of people saying things about "white people" they would never say about any other ethnic group.

The high rate of recidivism and reincarceration for previous offenders makes the presentation of the results in this paper suspicious. The only way the involuntary separation value could be equal to the non-criminal control group would be for separation due to reimprisonment to be excluded or if the hiring procedures done by the hiring companies does an extraordinary job of identifying almost all cases of likely repeat offenders. I would think the latter case unlikely.

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