Should employers be willing gamble on hiring someone with a rap sheet?, asks St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario. A new study by two University of South Carolina criminologists found that ex-offenders with years-old rap sheets are less likely to re-offend as those recently released. The study, “Scarlet Letters and Recidivism: Does an old criminal record predict future offending?,” analyzed previous studies and crunched original data tracking offenders and non-offenders in Philadelphia since 1958. It recommends several policy changes, including expunging records for some offenders.
The study found that most folks tend to re-offend or violate terms of their probation within a few months or years of their release. Those who stayed law abiding still suffered from employment difficulties years after the offense, even though they were less likely to re-offend. “We would like to encourage policymakers through our study to seriously consider about whether we can afford to have a policy where we have carte balance exclusion of such offenders for jobs,” said co-author Robert Brame. The study, from the journal Criminology & Public Policy, can be found at this site: http://www.twincities.com/multimedia/twincities/archive/pdfs/scarlet.pdf