The predictive value of criminal background checks: do age and criminal history affect time to redemption?

S.D. Bushway*, P. Nieuwbeerta, A. Blokland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Criminal record checks are being used increasingly by decision makers to predict future unwanted behaviors. A central question these decision makers face is how much time it takes before offenders can be considered “redeemed” and resemble nonoffenders in terms of the probability of offending. Building on a small literature addressing this topic for youthful, first-time offenders, the current article asks whether this period differs across the age of last conviction and the total number of prior convictions. Using long-term longitudinal data on a dutch conviction cohort, we find that young novice offenders are redeemed after approximately 10 years of remaining crime free. For older offenders, the redemption period is considerably shorter. Offenders with extensive criminal histories, however, either never resemble their nonconvicted counterparts or only do so after a crime-free period of more than 20 years. Practical and theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-60
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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