Criminal background checks continue to be a routine practice among many employers in the United States. According to a recent survey, almost 60 percent of employers screen job applicants for their criminal histories. Despite their prevalence, criminal background checks often generate flawed or incomplete reports, with some reports failing to include conviction information. Such flaws may undermine the value of the screenings to employers and prevent suitable candidates who pose no additional risk to the public from securing a job. This report examines criminal background checks as a significant collateral consequence for justice-involved people and explores the importance of employment to reducing recidivism.
This report was updated November 15, 2017. An authors' note clarified two places in the report that reference data obtained from the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction.