Flaws in Criminal Record Checks Put Good Jobs Beyond Reach of Many Americans: Study

March 1, 2017, 3:51 pm

Flaws in the current system of criminal background checks limit the chances that individuals can rebuild their lives after they have served their time in prison by finding decent jobs, increases the chances of recidivism and affects public safety, argues a study released today.

The Urban Institute study points out that the two main types of checks currently on the market -provided by the FBI and private vendors— have "functional flaws that prevent employers from effectively identifying relevant criminal histories among job candidates."

"Fingerprint checks, relying on criminal record data in the FBI’s database, often return records without court dispositions, and may take longer to process," said the study, prepared by Nancy La Vigne, Matthew Lynch and Emily Reimal.

"Background checks conducted by private vendors also produce inaccurate reports owing to incomplete records from other jurisdictions, missing court dispositions, and incorrectly matched identities of prospective employees."

Background checks impact a substantial number of Americans. About one in 3 possess a criminal record—and they encounter some 45,142 local regulations limiting employment for justice-involved people.

The authors argue that improving the background check system, could help employers "make better hiring decisions by relying on more accurate data" and ensure that "prospective employees…face fewer unnecessary employment barriers."

They also recommended considering policy changes that "enhance the accuracy of background checks and establish and assure adherence to regulations that restrict record checks to the most recent and relevant of offense types in the context of the job being filled. "

The full study is available HERE.

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