Spawned from this other SE question.

In the United States it is challenging for ex-convicts to find gainful employment. A few states have gotten on board the Ban the Box initiative, referring to the removal of a check-able box on job applications asking if the applicant has a criminal record, but these are the exceptions not the rule. This background-check policy has been blamed in part for high recidivism rates in the US.

How does the rest of the world handle the privacy of ex-cons when applying to jobs? Either regions of the world or specific countries welcome.

  • 1
    In b4 comments about Australia’s convict system. Jan 5 '18 at 7:57
  • Hate to point this out, but isn't this a list question? and thus off-topic?
    – CGCampbell
    Jan 8 '18 at 18:18

In the UK, this is regulated by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Under the act an applicant does not need to disclose any spent convictions for most roles.

Convictions become "spent" depending on the sentence given. Cautions and non-custodial convictions become spent most quickly. Custodial sentences of over 2½ years never become spent. The age at which a crime was committed also affects when a conviction becomes spent. Some roles, such as "teacher" are exempt and all convictions and cautions must be disclosed. — source

It is illegal, under the act, for a potential employer to ask about spent convictions, or to treat an applicant with spent convictions differently.

Getting comparable statistics is difficult as the statistics for different countries may use different samples (including or not those who receive lesser sentences or various forms of caution), measure different outcomes (re-arrest, re-conviction or re-imprisonment). And over different time-spans. Attempting to compare the UK with the USA directly suggests that re-offending rates are lower in the UK than in the USA. Re-offending rates in the UK are at about 25% within 12 months (source). Using the wider measure of "re-arrest" suggests that about 50% of prisoners are re-arrested, though not all are subsequently convicted or imprisoned. This compares with about 60% in the USA.

There does not appear to be much controversy regarding the application of this law to adult offenders. There is debate on how it should apply to juvenile offenders source

In Europe, disclosure rules must be consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights, which gives a right to privacy, except as necessary for the protection of public good.

  • 1
    This answer would be better if it also contrasted US to UK recidivism rates.
    – agc
    Jan 5 '18 at 21:06
  • Comparable stats are hard to find. But I've edited to include something.
    – James K
    Jan 5 '18 at 21:25
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    It might be useful to quote the horizon for the 25% number - that's only within 12 months.
    – MSalters
    Jan 7 '18 at 0:08
  • " Attempting to compare the US with the USA" -> should probably be "UK", not "US", but I can't propose a 1-char edit.
    – Erik
    Jan 7 '18 at 17:42

In the Netherlands, employers can ask for a Certificate of Conduct (Verklaring Omtrent Gedrag, VOG). The department of justice will, given the role the person is applying for, determine if there is any objection to be found in the criminal record of the person applying. If that person has no criminal record, the VOG is always granted. If there is a criminal record, but the facts are considered irrelevant to the job, the VOG is still granted.

Hence, the employer will only know whether a potential employee has a relevant criminal record, and then only that such a record exists - not its contents.

VOG's are not tied to companies - volunteer organizations are advised to use them as well, especially when working with vulnerable groups (youth, elderly, handicapped).

Recidivism is a serious problem - 70% of inmates will be convicted again within 6 years. Comparison with the US is a problem, however - the justice system in the Netherlands is well-known to be rather lenient (A recent media event was the public apology by the Dutch IOC member Camiel Eurlings for domestic violence - the justice department decided not to press charges because he was doing volunteer work !). More scientifically, 80% of offenders do not go to jail, and that's ignoring petty crime. For young serious offenders, that's even 95%. Hence, only the most severe criminals will become inmates, and it's not a big surprise that recidivism is a major problem in that group.

  • I don't suppose they publish similar works in English? Those percentages are people found or pleading guilty right?
    – user9389
    Jan 7 '18 at 0:46
  • @notstoreboughtdirt: My bad. Link fixed. See also english.wodc.nl/onderzoeksdatabase/…
    – MSalters
    Jan 7 '18 at 0:48

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