Topics and Issues

Background checks (18)

Jeff Sedgwick (4)

Look-back periods (4)

Obsolescence (4)

Recidivism (4)

In 2010, Dr. Jeff Sedgwick, criminologist and former director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) at the U.S. Department of Justice, wrote a paper, Overview of Selected Current Research on the Usefulness of Criminal Background Check Information.  This paper casts a critical eye on the work done by Megan C. Kurlychek, Robert Brame and Shawn D. Bushway, “Scarlet Letters and Recidivism: Does an Old Criminal Record Predict Future Offending?” Criminology & Public Policy 5: 483-504 and Alfred Blumstein and Kiminori Nakamura, “Redemption in the Presence of Widespread Criminal Background Checks,” Criminology 47: 327-359.

Sedgwick’s paper points to flaws in the research by Kulychek, Brame and Shawn D. Bushway; and Alfred Blumstein and Kiminori Nakamura.  In short, the propensity of a person with a criminal history is higher than someone with no prior record, and this propensity to commit crime continues well beyond what some consider to be a magical or mythical five-, seven-, or ten-year window.