CJRC Impact - What We're Doing to Advance Research

February 1, 2019

CJRC Impact - What We're Doing to Advance Research


"The CJRC has been critical to continuing my research agenda on criminal records and employability. The seed grant program allowed me to hire 2 graduate students over a summer semester, as well as pay for participant incentives and travel to interviews, in order to conduct a pilot study that included an experiment, survey, and in-depth interviews. The pilot period provided exactly what we needed to then apply for a grant from the National Science Foundation, which was funded on the first submission! The same 2 graduate students now have full-time funding for an additional two years. There is no doubt that the funding from the CJRC allowed us to so effectively pursue this external funding" (Dr. Mike Vuolo).

Dr. Mike Vuolo, Associate Professor of Sociology at The Ohio State University and Fulbright Scholar, along with graduate students Eric LaPlant and Lesley Schneider presented, “Criminal Record Questions on Job Applications as a Self-Selection Mechanism for Applying for Employment” during the CJRC March 29th, 2018 CJRC seminar.  Eric is a Ph.D. student with interests in crime, law and deviance, collateral consequences, health, substance use, and neighborhoods. Lesley Schneider is a second-year graduate student at The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on inequality, law and punishment, the production of deviance, and stigma.

During the presentation, they explained that over the past decade, “Ban the Box” movements across the United States have advocated for the removal of criminal history questions from employment applications based on knowledge of the deleterious impact of a criminal record on employability. With this increasing policy focus on job applications, they examined the influence of criminal record questions and background check warning statements on individuals with criminal records’ decision to apply for available employment. They described a CJRC-funded seed grant that used a mixed-methods approach, featuring experimental and in-depth interview components, that quantitatively tests the probability of application by various possible ways that employers can ask about records and qualitatively inquires how those with records navigate this process. Relative to an application with no criminal record questions or background check statement, they found that background check statements are significantly more likely to deter those with records from applying, but criminal record questions are not. Their interviews confirmed that applicants self-select out of certain jobs and when confronted with a background check statement, that they view the criminal record question as an opportunity for identity management, and that they have more agency in the process than described in previous studies. The group discussed both theoretical and policy implications of these findings.

They ended the presentation by taking many questions from those in attendance regarding their opinions on ban the box, their methods of data collection as well as the impact of these on employment and employability.