Did you know that Jeffrey Dahmer was a chocolate maker? Did you know that Ted Bundy was a shoe clerk? What percentage of YOUR applicants have a criminal record?
The number of Americans with a criminal history has risen quickly over the past three decades. Today, nearly one-third of the adult working age population has a criminal record. In fact, in 2015 the Brennan Center for Justice claimed as many Americans have criminal records than college diplomas!
According to a 2012 Department of Justice survey, state criminal history repositories contain more than 100 million records. These repositories chronicle nearly every arrest, regardless of whether or not it leads to an indictment or conviction. And while 100 million records do exist, this figure almost certainly overstates the true number of individuals who have been arrested at any point in their lives, since one person can have an arrest record in multiple states.
In an effort to make complete criminal histories easily accessible to all law enforcement agencies, the FBI maintains a database indexing these records known as the Interstate Identification Index (III). Whenever a suspected criminal is arrested and fingerprinted by a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency; those records are forwarded to the FBI to be included in the III. The FBI assigns each subject a unique identification number that indexes all state records existing for that person, meaning each number corresponds to a distinct individual.
As of July 1, 2015, more than 70 million people have records indexed by the III.
Regardless of race or gender, researchers estimate that by age 23 nearly one in three Americans will have been arrested.
A 2012 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, found that 86 percent of employers use criminal background checks on at least some candidates, with the majority (69 percent) checking all candidates. In a similar 2010 survey by the same group, 31 percent of respondents said an arrest without conviction would at least be “somewhat influential” in their hiring decision.
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