Consequences of a criminal conviction essay

Contents

  1. Diversion sentencing may offer an alternative path to justice—but how fair is it?
  2. Cite this page
  3. Employment with a Criminal Background Essay

It was the first time that Mr. Mirsky had ever been arrested. A few months later, he pleaded guilty to a single felony. The enduring problem is that he has a criminal record. He also submitted about 30 applications to other employers last year, and received a couple of interviews, but no offers. He is convinced nothing has panned out because of his legal troubles — the warrant, the arrest and the conviction. For the last several years, job applicants have vastly outnumbered job openings. And the issues that land people in legal trouble may also make them less attractive as applicants.

But Ms. Pager, the Harvard sociologist, has found in her research that having a criminal record by itself is often a significant impediment. In , Ms. Pager sent pairs of black men and white men to apply for low-wage jobs at businesses in the Milwaukee area. In both cases, she found men who reported criminal convictions were about 50 percent less likely to receive a callback or a job offer.

The difference was significantly larger in the black pairs than in the white pairs. White employers seemed to show more sympathy for the white applicants, Ms. Pager said, and most of the employers were white.


  1. Civil rights commission calls to end 'invisible' punishments for those with criminal convictions.
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Lucia Bone worries that background checks are getting a bad rap. Bone is the founder of a nonprofit called Sue Weaver Cause that urges employers — particularly those that send workers into homes — to check the backgrounds of new hires and to conduct regular checks on existing employees. She says that many companies are not being careful enough. The nonprofit is named for her sister, Sue Weaver, who was raped and murdered in after she hired a local department store in Orlando, Fla.

The two men sent to perform the work both had criminal records, but the store had not ensured that its subcontractor conducted a background check. A few months later, one of those workers returned, killed Ms. Weaver, then set her house on fire. Bone said. The ready availability of criminal records databases has fueled the perception that it is irresponsible for employers to ignore available information.

Local governments increasingly put criminal records online, and private companies like HireRight, Sterling BackCheck and LexisNexis Risk Solutions aggregate those records, offering almost instant results.


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  • In the early s, less than half of companies routinely checked criminal histories. Now relatively few refrain. These policies affect a growing number of people. About 10 percent of nonincarcerated men had felony records in , up from 4 percent in , according to research led by the sociologists Sarah Shannon of the University of Georgia and Christopher Uggen of the University of Minnesota. The numbers are much higher among African-American men: About 25 percent of nonincarcerated black men had been convicted of a felony, up from 9 percent in The problem with criminal background checks, in Mr.

    Some employers ask about convictions for felonies; some ask only about narrow categories of felony like violent crimes or sex crimes. Others ask about any arrest whatsoever. Uggen was himself arrested few times as a Minnesota teenager for fighting and other minor sins but, when he submitted his college application to the University of Wisconsin, he was not asked and he did not tell. Now a professor, he said that some of his own students were not able to escape the past so easily. Colleges routinely ask applicants about criminal history.

    So do landlords. Help Login Sign Up. A criminal record is a document that lists a person's criminal and penal convictions pronounced by the courts of Canada in accordance with federal laws such as the Criminal Code of Canada. However, violating a traffic rule of the Quebec Highway Safety Code is not a criminal offence and would not result in a criminal record.

    In fact, offences to provincial penal laws do not result in criminal records. A criminal record may harm your chances of getting a job in certain fields e. Such circumstances create fertile ground for crime to occur and perhaps flourish. To be clear, this does not mean that migrants bring crime with them.

    In fact, the evidence has long suggested that movers have less of the characteristics that are predictive of criminal behavior. The problem is the lack of social integration. Similarly, when communities lose too large of a segment of their population, this same important, crime-inhibiting social integration can be disrupted. It is important to remember that even people who break the law occupy many different roles. They are husbands or wives or girlfriends or boyfriends, sons, daughters, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

    Families and the neighborhoods in which they reside struggle to fill the void when members are no longer there. The removal of too many people from communities can be disruptive. The nation has seen this in recent years when sections of formerly industrial capitals, such as Detroit, Cleveland, St.

    Louis, and Pittsburgh, have lost population as people left in search of jobs. Some criminologists believe that when people from a community are imprisoned at a high enough number—coercive mobility—the effect may also be criminogenic. So there are two countervailing forces or arguments: that removing problem criminal people improves the life of neighborhoods, and that removing too many people and then returning them can be criminogenic. The two most prominent researchers who have made the case regarding coercive mobility and its deleterious effects are Dina Rose and Todd Clear.

    They believe that there is a tipping point, below which imprisonment is normally good for a community, but above which it becomes criminogenic. This effect, coercive mobility leading to crime, is not thought to happen everywhere, but in severely socially and economically disadvantaged places. This is, in part, because a large amount of serious crime occurs there, but also because such places have very limited resources and do not have the collective resiliency to overcome high levels of imprisonment and large numbers of released men and women returning to the same problematic neighborhoods from which they came, or ones very much like them.

    An important way to address the problems for communities of color is to reduce the residential racial and economic segregation that continues to cause problems for social life in the U. It is generally accepted that having a good, solid family life lowers the probability of a person becoming involved in crime, and that having employment especially good employment does the same.

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    Diversion sentencing may offer an alternative path to justice—but how fair is it?

    Predictably, those most likely to be sentenced to a term in prison are less likely than others of their age, race, and gender to be involved in a stable relationship or to have been employed in a high-quality job prior to their incarceration. When men and women return from prison, their family life has an even higher likelihood of having been disrupted, and their competitiveness on the job market is even more diminished than it was before they were incarcerated.

    Time in prison means that these already marginal people are more marginalized, and they tend to return to living in neighborhoods that are already distressed by the presence of too many disrupted families and high levels of joblessness.

    What Is a Criminal Record?

    Which brings things back to the coercive mobility argument, as it may be critically important. As a consequence, the National Research Council NRC committee charged with studying the causes and consequences of high rates of imprisonment took some time to evaluate the evidence for and against this thesis. The evidence is not conclusive, but it is suggestive. As observed in cities across the country, incarceration is very concentrated geographically.

    In addition, the evidence indicates that, indeed, the places that released prisoners return to are just as geographically concentrated in other ways, as shown by comparison of the racial and ethnic composition of high-incarceration neighborhoods with the rest of the city, and the poverty rates for these communities and the city as a whole. The areas of concentrated incarceration are in predominately minority districts.

    This is the case in cities throughout the United States. The committee also found strong evidence that these places are among the most economically and socially disadvantaged sections of U. Thus, there is little doubt about this portion of the argument: prisoners come from and return to a narrow group of neighborhoods, very disadvantaged ones.

    Two other aspects of the coercive mobility argument are less clear. First, there is some evidence that this concentration pattern is criminogenic, but other researchers have not found evidence that this pattern increases crime above and beyond what would generally be expected for similar neighborhoods. Some additional research has also provided support. Second, critical to this notion is that there is a tipping point below which incarceration benefits communities, but above which high levels of coercive mobility increases crime rates.

    Consequences of a criminal conviction

    The research evidence does indicate that there is a nonlinear relationship between imprisonment and crime, which suggests that there is such a tipping point, but criminologists to date have not been able to settle on where that tipping point is. After considering the evidence, the NRC committee concluded that it did not allow for affirmation that high levels of imprisonment cause crime in these neighborhoods.

    Interestingly, the committee reported that an analytically major problem for examining this thesis is that it is too hard—indeed, virtually impossible—to find enough white neighborhoods with the same levels of either imprisonment or disadvantage that exists routinely in many African American communities in nearly every major American city to allow for meaningful analysis.

    Cities in the United States are still far too racially segregated to make the analytic comparisons that are necessary, and the minority neighborhoods are where the disadvantaged are concentrated and from where prisoners are disproportionally drawn. So, although the committee could not affirm that high levels of incarceration increases crime in disadvantaged minority neighborhoods, it did find that the quantitative evidence is suggestive of that pattern. And a number of ethnographers—who have been spending time in these communities and watching how families, friendship networks, and communities are faring—are adding additional evidence that indicates that high levels of imprisonment, concentrated in disadvantaged communities of color, are indeed criminogenic.

    Researchers are increasingly finding that both the collateral consequences of imprisonment, and living in communities from which many of the imprisoned come from and return to, do have detrimental effects. And these effects are visited upon the reentering individual, on their families, and on the communities at large. It has been well established that men, whether or not they have been to prison, are less likely to be involved in crime if they are in stable intimate relationships, employed gainfully, and living in decent housing.

    Cite this page

    And for those returning from prison, those who establish these life patterns are more likely to have successful reentry to their communities. Importantly, a large proportion of men being released from prison hopes to and expects to live with their children.

    But families and children are negatively affected when parents go into prison, as well as when they return. Unfortunately, in places characterized by high levels of incarceration, there are additional challenges. Studies of the effects of high incarceration rates in neighborhoods in Oakland have found that important institutions—families and schools, as well as businesses and criminal justice personnel, such as police and parole officers—have become reconfigured to focus on marginalized young boys, increasing the chances that they become more marginalized and involved in crime.

    Other studies in similar places in Philadelphia have also found that high levels of imprisonment undermined familial, employment, and community relationships, increasing the likelihood of criminal involvement. Additionally, researchers in San Francisco, St.

    Employment with a Criminal Background Essay

    Louis, Seattle, and Washington, D. Substantial policy changes that create more robust state efforts to support individuals during reentry will not only help them, but their families and the places they return to as well. More ominously, evidence indicates that these patterns likely have a vicious intergenerational cycle.