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Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

Enduring Risk? Old Criminal Records and Short-Term Predictions of Criminal Involvement

  • Organization: University of South Carolina
  • Author: Megan Kurlychek
  • Document Type: Report
  • Date Created: Wednesday, April 12, 2006
  • Submitted: Wednesday, April 12, 2006
  • Attachment(s): PDF | HTM

It is well accepted that criminal records impose collateral consequences on offenders. Generations of researchers have studied the obstacles offenders face when they apply for employment. More recently, researchers have also examined the effects of criminal records on access to public housing, student financial aid, welfare benefits, and voting rights. An axiom of these policies is that individuals with criminal records - even old criminal records - exhibit significantly higher risk of future criminal conduct than individuals without criminal records. In this paper, we use police contact data from the 1942 Racine birth cohort study to determine whether individuals whose last criminal record occurred many years ago exhibit a higher risk of acquiring future criminal records than individuals with no criminal record at all. Our findings suggest that after approximately 7 years there is little to no distinguishable difference in risk of future offending between those with an old criminal record and those without a criminal record.

Megan C. Kurlychek, University of South Carolina

Robert Brame, University of South Carolina

Shawn D. Bushway, University of Maryland

Keywords: criminal records, labeling, collateral consequences, recidivism.

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