Date of Conferral

2019

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Public Policy and Administration

Advisor

Dianne Williams

Abstract

Individuals with a criminal background face several barriers to securing employment, one of which is the reluctance of hiring managers to extend employment offers to them. African American ex-offenders are disproportionately affected by these barriers. The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes of hiring managers in a metropolitan area in the Southern United States and to identify the factors that influence the hiring decisions of ex-offenders. A descriptive study design was used to explore whether type of criminal offense, length of crime, or race of offender affect a hiring manager’s decision to hire an ex-felon. The disparate impact of discrimination theory served as the theoretical framework. Data were collected from a nonrandom, purposive sample of 376 current and former hiring managers and HR professionals who make hiring decisions. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Study findings revealed 53% of respondents said they would not hire a person with a felony conviction, which supports the claim that a person’s criminal background does play a role in whether an employer extends an employment offer. The findings of this study may provide guidance to legislators in developing or amending hiring laws to better facilitate the reintegration of people with felony criminal backgrounds. Such action may engender positive social change through the reduction of criminal activity in urban areas, gains in the economy, improved public safety, more stable neighborhoods, and a decrease in the cost of housing offenders. Moreover, positive social change may occur when offenders do not recidivate because the state will not have to spend funds on incarceration.

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