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La regulación de los antecedentes penales: su efecto en el acceso al mercado laboral de los jóvenes

La regulación de los antecedentes penales: su efecto en el acceso al mercado laboral de los jóvenes

La regulación de los antecedentes penales: su efecto en el acceso al mercado laboral de los jóvenes
Ref. RecerCaixa 2013

The problematic situation of the job market in Spain is particularly acute for young people. Among young people, there are groups with specific difficulties that require special solutions. This research aims to study and promote employment for young people with criminal records. Criminal records (spent and unspent) are an obstacle to finding employment and it is especially so for middle-class youth, convicted for 'conventional' crimes (e.g. traffic offences or gender violence crimes), for whom social exclusion is due, precisely to their having a criminal record.

There has not been any research in Spain that has dealt with the effects of convictions or 'collateral consequences' of a sentence. Re-entry programs for previously convicted individuals, such as "Reintegra" from "La Caixa" or the programmes organized by the Centre d'Iniciatives per la Reinserció from the Generalitat de Catalunya, are focused on solving the social deficits of ex-inmates, offering education and training and supporting the re-entry process. Our research tries to find out the additional impact that a criminal record has for all sentenced people (not just ex-prisoners). Besides promoting social reintegration, we need to be aware of legal norms and social practices that hinder social reintegration. The legal system and social practices must offer an environment that supports rehabilitation, without adding further obstacles to the process.

We know that there is large and disperse regulation regarding criminal background checks for many jobs, positions and professions. Additionally, even when there is no legal requirement, employers may also ask for a 'criminal record certificate' during the job recruitment process. We have just finished research that shows that individuals with a criminal record on their CV are less likely (2.1 lower probability) to be called for a job interview in comparison with other individuals with equivalent characteristics. But we still do not know the exact dimensions of the criminal background checking system in Spain and Europe, as opposed to the US where it is suggested that between 60 and 80% of employers carry out such a criminal background check.

This research process will be developed through two different lines of work, one comparative and another empirical. The theoretical line will explore the legislation of Spain and different European Countries to illuminate in which cases a criminal background check is a legal requirement to entry into the job market. This research is aimed at highlighting the multiplicity and diversity of positions for which criminals records are requested and to suggest minor legal reforms for modernizing and rationalizing this requirement. The empirical line, (by using ethnographic methods), will focus on the effects on the real life of convicted persons, particularly on successful stories and on the adequate supports the Criminal Justice System agents can use for contributing to a successful re-entry into the labour market.

The research will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team (composed of legal, political science and sociologist scholars) and will be underpinned by parallel simultaneous research in the University of Minneapolis (USA) and the University of Utrecht (Holland). This international support is fundamental, as the topic of criminal records has received international attention, in response to the increase, since the eighties, of convictions and also to the need to take into account that the legal proposals must be framed at the European Union level.

The aim of the research is to suggest proposals to reduce the stigma of criminal records. This involves not only legal reforms, but also practical guidance. A guide for persons with criminal records and how these can be expunged ('erased') will be created in order to facilitate their re-entry into the labour market. Also training courses regarding how to deal with criminal records will be offered to the agents of the Criminal Justice System to support the re-entry process; and legal reforms will be suggested at the Spanish and European Community level to circumscribe and define those cases in which the criminal records consideration makes sense according to the gravity of the offence, sentence, position to occupy, and time elapsed since the offence.

It is our contention that Criminal Records are an understudied topic that hinders youth access to the job market. However, in our view, effective change is possible, through some legal reforms and practical advice that educates both people with criminal records and also agents of the Criminal Justice System. To create a system of criminal background checks that is rational and balances the need for public protection with the reintegration of young offenders is the ultimate goal of this research.

Principal researchers

Elena Larrauri Pijoan

Researchers

Ester Blay Gil

Ref. RecerCaixa 2013

77.982,34 €