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Meeting of November 20, 2008 – Employment Discrimination Faced by Individuals with Arrest and Conviction Records

Shawn D. Bushway
Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
University at Albany (SUNY), School of Criminal Justice

Shawn D. Bushway is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice in the School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany. He is also the associate director of the Program on the Economics of Crime and Justice Policy at the University of Maryland. He received his Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis and Political Economy in 1996 from the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University. He is a member of the editorial boards of Criminology and the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, and is an expert on the statistical analysis of crime data.

Professor Bushway has conducted research on a number of topics relevant to the reentry discussion. He conducted a major review with Peter Reuter showing that crime prevention programs based in the labor market have some potential to reduce crime, especially for older offenders. He also studied the link between criminal history and employment programs, showing that arrest leads to problems in the labor market. This work also highlighted how the link between race and criminal history records could lead to discrimination against African American men if employers were denied access to criminal history records. Bushway also led a study which documented that the a criminal history record search by a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) search missed substantially more ex-offenders than an FBI criminal history record search, raising serious questions about the accuracy of these types of private searches.

Of course, even after the criminal history search is done, employers need to make use of the information to make intelligent hiring decisions. Bushway has co-written two articles which look at how recidivism rates decline as people who are released from prison remain uninvolved with the criminal justice system over time. This long term follow-up of formerly incarcerated individuals fits well with Professor Bushway’s larger research agenda on measuring and explaining desistance from crime.