Recent Posts


Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

A study assessing the performance of ex-offenders with past criminal records in the workplace reveals that employers could be missing out on good workers by avoiding job applicants with criminal pasts when hiring, according to an article ‘Ex-Cons May Outperform You in the Workplace’ available on the website.

The study ‘Does a Criminal Past Predict Worker Performance? Evidence from America’s Largest Employer,’ co-authored by Harvard sociologist Devah Pager with Jennifer Lundquist and Eiko Strader from UMass Amherst, used U.S. military data for 1.3 million soldiers – both ex-offenders and non-offenders – who enlisted between 2002 and 2009.

The study evaluated the work performance of ex-offenders re-entering the job market and found ex-offenders were no more likely than other enlistees to be discharged for negative reasons such as misconduct or poor performance. These ex-offenders were also promoted at a slightly higher rate and to higher ranks than non-offenders with no criminal record.

“We see these results as very promising in terms of thinking about how, given appropriate screening, those with felony-level criminal records seem to make very promising employees,” Pager stated in the article. “Employers may be missing out on a huge amount of talent by screening out all those with felony-level records.”

The results of the study may be related to the additional review ex-offenders undergo for criminal military waivers that assesses the nature of the crime, time since conviction, and other qualities that can result in selecting above average recruits. Also, ex-offenders receiving a second chance may be more committed to work and promotions.

“We know that finding a quality, steady job following release from prison is one of the strongest predictors of desistance from crime,” Pager stated in the article. “For that reason alone, reintegrating ex-offenders and supporting employment as a key part of that process is in everyone’s interest.”

The study is one of the first to assess the performance of ex-offenders in the workplace.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the U.S. incarcerated population is approximately four-and-a-half times larger than in 1980, and more than 2.2 million people in the United States were held in federal and state prisons and county jails in 2014.

ESR Whitepaper Helps Ex-Offenders

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) has released a complimentary whitepaper – ‘Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce’ – to help job applicants with criminal records reenter the workplace. This whitepaper is available for download at

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this web site is for educational purposes only.

© 2016 Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – Making copies or using of any part of the ESR News Blog or ESR website for any purpose other than your own personal use is prohibited unless written authorization is first obtained from ESR.