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Extension of Current Estimates of Redemption Times: Robustness Testing, Out-of-State Arrests, and Racial Differences

NCJ Number
Alfred Blumstein; Kiminori Nakamura
Date Published
October 2012
114 pages
This study, which is an extension of a NIJ-funded project that provided empirical estimates of what the authors call "redemption time," addresses new issues that are important for moving research on "redemption" forward while making research findings applicable to relevant policy.
"Redemption time" is the "time when an individual with a prior arrest record has stayed clean of further involvement with the criminal justice system sufficiently long to be considered 'redeemed' and relieved of the stale burden of a prior criminal-history record." The first section of this report presents the project's background. It discusses the increasing use of criminal background checks by employers; the potential size of the population with criminal records, who are affected by background checking for criminal history; and the initial research on redemption that empirically examined when a criminal record loses its relevance in predicting future crime ("redemption times"). The second section of the report explores the robustness of "redemption time" estimates. The results of that study show that the estimates of "redemption time" are reasonably robust across sampling years and States. The third section addresses the relationship between the crime type of the first crime event and the crime type of a possible second arrest. This recognizes that employers are concerned mostly about particular types of offenses that employees may commit, based on the nature of the job position. Estimates are presented of the recidivism risk and "redemption time" of particular second-offense types, focusing particularly on violent and property crimes. The fourth section focuses on the relationship between race and longer term recidivism risk. The last two sections summarize study findings, discuss future work, and describe the author's efforts to disseminate the findings and implications of this research. 20 tables and 100 references