“Criminal Record Questions on Job Applications as a Self-Selection Mechanism for Applying for Employment”
Employment is one of the most critical bonds for preventing a return to crime. If individuals elect not to apply for certain positions, such choices will decrease the odds of forming this important bond. Understanding under what conditions individuals with records choose to apply for jobs is therefore central to efforts to help individuals reintegrate into society and prevent crime. This research project will interview 140 individuals with criminal records recruited from criminal reentry organizations and halfway houses in the Columbus, OH metropolitan area. An interview guide and brief survey were developed through a pilot study completed in 2017. In-depth interviews will provide nuanced information regarding job search experiences and choices. The interviews query topics such as experiences with job searches both before and after having a criminal record, whether criminal records questions or background check statements on job applications prevent individuals from applying for positions, how forthcoming individuals are about their record in the application process, and what types of industries they seek out. The survey gathers complementary information on socio-demographics, criminal history, employment history, and personal difficulties in applying for jobs. Respondents will be re-interviewed six months later in order to understand whether new experiences in the labor market alter choices among those with records, whether this differs by background factors related to labor market outcomes such as race, and the underlying reasons for any changes in choices such as those related to stigma. This project directly addresses ongoing public policy debates regarding how best to provide individuals with criminal records a fair assessment in the job application process so that they can experience the benefits of the important social bond of employment, best epitomized by the Ban the Box movement (which seeks to eliminate criminal record questions from applications). By moving the discussion from decisions of employers to applicants, these results may fundamentally change the way we think about and evaluate these policies.
“Effects of State-Level Policy Implementation on Opiate Abuse and Mortality”
States have responded to the current opiate crisis through implementing several different types of policies, such as prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), expanded naloxone access, and Good Samaritan immunity. At present, the full efficacy of each of these policies is unknown beyond examinations of a limited set of policies, localities, or years. This research study will use causal statistical methods and a robust policy database to examine the impact of relevant policies on opiate use, dependence, and fatal overdose from 1999 to the present. For policy data, we will employ the new and as yet underutilized NIDA-funded Prescription Drug Abuse Policy System (PDAPS) to evaluate the effects of opiate relevant policies. We will accomplish this goal by coding this database by state and year and combining it with mortality data from the Center of Disease Control and data on use and dependence from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, as well as time-varying control measures from the U.S. Census Bureau and FBI Uniform Crime Reports. We will analyze this dataset using fixed effects and difference-in-difference models, which are causal methods for observational data well-known for the elimination of unobserved heterogeneity, such that estimators are robust to any observable or unobservable time-invariant omitted variables. The fixed effects and difference-in-difference approaches respectively provide a causal interpretation of (a) whether a given state experiences a decrease in opiate outcomes after passing a particular policy, and (b) whether a state that passes a policy experiences a decrease in opiate outcomes relative to a state that does not have that policy. The PDAPS database contains detailed policy information (e.g. to whom practitioners can prescribe naloxone, who has access to PDMPs), such that we can determine which of the nuanced approaches to these policies are most efficacious. We will examine whether each policy component affects use, dependence, and fatal overdose for opiates generally as well as separately for prescription opiates and heroin. In addition, we will test for synergistic effects of policy; that is, whether the combination of any given policies is particularly effective. Finally, we will conduct these analyses by key demographics: gender, race/ethnicity, age, and urbanicity, which will permit the identification of related health disparities. Our proposed exploratory research provides an opportunity to test the impact of a rapidly evolving policy landscape on opiate outcomes and will contribute in additional ways. First, if certain policies or combinations of policies are identified as efficacious, the results would provide evidence for broader adoption to curb the current opiate crisis. Second, the identification of possible health disparities in the benefits of policy implementation may not only help public health professionals to work towards redressing these disparities, but also identify policies that may “bypass” social inequalities to provide comprehensive benefits to citizens. Finally, this exploratory study establishes a foundation for future research that will consider local policy variation, individual-level policy-driven changes, and non-fatal overdose.