Excerpted from Center for American Progress post by Rachel West, Rebecca Vallas, Phil Hernandez, and Sharon Dietrich
Between 70 million and 100 million Americans—1 in 3—now have some type of criminal record. Having even a minor record—including an arrest that never led to conviction—can stand in the way of nearly every building block of economic security, including employment, housing, education, family reunification, and even already-meager public assistance. As a result, even a minor record can be a life sentence to poverty. This research roundup summarizes key findings of recent research highlighting the far-reaching consequences for individuals, families, communities, and the broader economy, as well as studies exploring the effects of policies to unlock opportunity for people with records and their families.
Barriers to opportunity by the numbers
• Nearly 9 in 10 employers use background checks in hiring; an estimated 4 in 5 landlords use background checks on prospective tenants; and more than 3 in 5 colleges and universities use background checks in admissions.
• Between 60 percent and 75 percent of formerly incarcerated individuals remain unemployed one year after their release.
• Formerly incarcerated men are employed for nine fewer weeks per year on average and earn 40 percent less than otherwise similar never-incarcerated men, resulting in nearly $179,000 in lost earnings by age 48.
• An applicant with a criminal record is 50 percent to 63 percent less likely to get a callback or job offer than an identical applicant without a record—and this effective hiring penalty increases twofold for black applicants compared with white applicants.
• Employees with criminal records in the private sector, however, have longer average tenures than employees without records, are less likely to leave voluntarily, and are no more likely to be terminated involuntarily.
• A study of the U.S. military found that individuals with felony records were promoted more rapidly and to higher ranks than others and were no more likely to be discharged for negative reasons than individuals without records.
• Individuals’ net worth decreases by an average of more than $47,500 in the years after incarceration—after adjusting for inflation—and the incarceration of a family member is associated with a 64.3 percent decrease in a family’s assets.
• After incarceration, a person’s probability of homeownership drops more than 45 percent relative to their never-incarcerated peers—even though the two groups’ homeownership probabilities were similar prior to incarceration.
Effects on the workforce and economy
• The total estimated cost burden of incarceration in the United States is more than $1 trillion per year—nearly 6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and 11 times the amount spent on corrections. This estimate takes into account 23 social and economic costs, such as foregone wages, adverse health effects, and increased infant mortality.
You can read the full post here.