Using psychology to improve employment prospects for the formerly incarcerated

Key Points

Employment after incarceration is one of the key indicators to ensuring individuals do not reenter the system. Unfortunately, there is a strong stigma against hiring those with a criminal record. Multiple reform measures to reduce this stigma exist, including ban the box, state regulations preventing the consideration of certain records, certificates of rehabilitation, and expungement.
Despite the best intentions of lawmakers, however, some of these mechanisms fall short of their intended purpose because they do not take into consideration basic human cognitive biases.
While there is no silver bullet to ensuring the employment of justice involved individuals, an exploration of cognitive mechanisms suggest erasing criminal record information through expungement is likely the strongest approach. 
Pragmatically, different strategies (e.g. ban the box, certificates of rehabilitation) will need to be employed at different stages to truly reintegrate the formerly incarcerated back into society.

If we are serious about reintegrating justice-involved individuals into society, then a robust expungement policy is our best bet.



Image credit:Alex_Po

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