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New Research Shows No Difference in Job Performance for Employees with Felony Convictions

Key Takeaways :

  • Despite perceived risks of hiring employees with felony convictions, the study shows no difference in job performance among a sample of nearly 1,000 employees across five firms.

  • It is important that the formerly incarcerated find meaningful employment once they are home, considering those who find jobs are less likely to re-offend and recidivate.

  • There is a rising need for workers to fill entry-level positions, and the growing number of individuals who have been incarcerated are well-equipped to do so.


Butler University recently released a new study that adds to the literature on Fair Chance Hiring and the experiences of formerly incarcerated people as they reenter the workforce. The study found that individuals convicted of felonies perform no worse on the job than employees who have no criminal history. Furthermore, researchers found that “those who have felony convictions perform better in larger work environments, and those with less severe misdemeanor convictions progress more in smaller settings.” The study also looked at the labor force attachment of individuals with past convictions and found that they demonstrated behavior consistent with a strong motivation or need to work despite continuing to face obstacles that may make it more difficult to remain employed.

Butler University’s research sheds new light on the benefits of hiring formerly incarcerated people and further confirms the value of Fair Chance hiring practices to both employers and employees. This study also reinforces findings from Northwestern University’s study that examines companies’ hiring practices and worker-level performance outcomes, Harvard/UMass’s study on how criminal justice involvement affects workplace performance, and Johns Hopkins’ research on how to implement Fair Chance hiring.

To read more about Butler University’s research, click here.


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