Home > Research . Search . Country . Browse . Small Grants

PSC In The News

RSS Feed icon

Lam says tightening global labor market good for American workers

Johnston says e-cigs may reverse two-decades of progress on smoking reduction

Mueller-Smith finds incarceration increases the likelihood of committing more, and more serious, crimes

Highlights

Bob Willis awarded 2015 Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Field of Labor Economics

David Lam is new director of Institute for Social Research

Elizabeth Bruch wins Robert Merton Prize for paper in analytic sociology

Elizabeth Bruch wins ASA award for paper in mathematical sociology

Next Brown Bag

PSC Brown Bags will be back fall 2015


Sonja B. Starr photo

Evaluating the Impact of Set-Aside Laws on Ex-Offender Recidivism and Socioeconomic Outcomes

a PSC Research Project

Investigators:   Sonja B. Starr, J.J. Prescott, Jeffrey Morenoff

This project will assess the economic and public safety consequences of sealing or expunging criminal records. Existing research shows that reentering offenders face serious barriers to employment due to their criminal records, and are also often excluded from certain public benefits and social services that could help them escape from poverty. Unemployment and poverty, in turn, are significant predictors of criminal recidivism. Thus, there is reason to predict that sealing criminal records could offer significant socioeconomic benefits for offenders and thereby reduce recidivism. However, no existing empirical research tests these predictions. Some commentators have expressed skepticism about sealing's effectiveness, and even assuming that it does have the benefits we predict, the magnitude of those benefits is unknown. Policymakers who are considering adopting or expanding sealing programs need more concrete guidance about the likely effects on crime rates and socioeconomic outcomes in order to determine whether the benefits justify concealing information from potential employers and the public.
This project seeks to provide that guidance by assessing the impact of a Michigan state law allowing the records of certain first-time offenders to be set aside. Using deidentified data from the state police's criminal history database, we will track the subsequent criminal history of persons who have applied for and received set-asides as well as comparison groups of otherwise similar individuals. This will allow us to analyze the effects of sealing on recidivism rates. In addition, by matching the police data to data on the same individuals in the state tax and benefits databases, we will be able to assess sealing's effects on socioeconomic outcomes for offenders as well as its budgetary impact on the state.

Funding Period: 09/01/2010 to 08/31/2015

Search . Browse