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1 65 Million “Need Not Apply : ” The Case for Reforming Criminal Background Checks for Employment 1 Introduction In recent years, the criminal background check industry has grown exponentially. Particularly in the wake of 9/11, the ready availability of inexpensive commercial background checks has made them a popular employee screening tool. In one survey, more than 90 percent of companies reported using criminal background checks for their hiring decisions. 1 At the same time that the background check industry has expanded, the share of the U.S. population with criminal records has soared to over one in four adults.
Across the nation there is a consistent theme: people with criminal records “need not apply” for available jobs. Combine today’s tight job market, the upsurge in background checks, and the growing number of people with criminal records, and the results are untenable. In the end, workers are not the only ones who suffer. Employers are also disadvantaged as blanket hiring restrictions undermine the integrity of criminal background checks and artificially limit the employers’ pool of qualified candidates.
The federal government should aggressively enforce civil rights and consumer protections that apply to criminal background checks for employment in the public and private sectors.
Not only is it a matter of public safety to ensure that all workers have job opportunities, but it is also critical for the struggling economy. No healthy economy can sustain such a large and growing population of unemployable workers, especially in those communities already hard hit by joblessness. Indeed, the impact on the economy is staggering. The cost of corrections at each level of government has increased 660 percent from 1982 to 2006, consuming $68 billion a year, 7 and the reduced output of goods and services of people with felonies and prison records is estimated at between $57 and $65 billion in losses.
So how do we solve this problem people? What do we do?
Post Falls, ID – December 5, 2014 – “Amateur Hour” theatrics ran amok as police arrested a 32-year-old convicted felon after he was spotted choking a woman during his failed attempt to repossess her vehicle.