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Criminal History and Employment: Challenges and Opportunities

Special issue call for papers from Equality, Diversity and Inclusion





Deadline for submissions: October 5, 2018

Guest Editors:

Nicole C. Jones Young, Franklin & Marshall College – [email protected]   
Ann Marie Ryan, Michigan State University - [email protected] 
As of yearend 2016, over 6.6 million individuals in the United States were under some form of correctional supervision (e.g., prison, jail, probation, parole) resulting from a criminal conviction (Kaeble & Cowhig, 2018). Consequently, approximately eight percent of the U.S. adult population and 33% of Black adult males have a felony conviction (Shannon, Uggen, Schnittker, Thompson, Wakefield, & Massogolia, 2017). As most convictions do not result in life sentences, the majority of those incarcerated will return to the community (Hughes & Wilson, 2018). Employment provides tremendous value for individuals with a criminal history in terms of reintegration into society and reduction of recidivism (Visher, Debus-Sherrill, & Yahner, 2011). Thus, it is likely that many individuals will seek to enter or re-enter the workforce after obtaining a criminal history.

Despite its invisible nature, criminal history is one of the most detrimental stigmas individuals can possess when seeking employment (Pager, 2003). Unlike other characteristics such as race or disabilities, criminal history is not considered to be a protected category (U.S. Equal Employment Commission, 2018). As such, criminal history can often be legally requested and considered during the employment process. This forced disclosure may mean that criminal history operates a bit differently when compared to previously researched demographic characteristics associated with stigmatization. For instance, formerly incarcerated individuals must navigate conversations such as how to successfully communicate their criminal history during an interview (Ali, Lyons, & Ryan, 2017). From the organizational perspective, employers can consider offense history, which often prompts concerns related to safety and cost (Griffith & Young, 2017).

In this special issue, we are interested in research that explores the workplace experiences of individuals and organizations as they navigate the employment of those with a criminal history. We encourage new considerations related to the application of management theories and concepts, as well as encourage new insights motivated by interdisciplinary research. Both empirical (e.g., quantitative, qualitative) and theoretical manuscripts are welcome.

Potential research topics may include, but would not be limited to the following topics:

1) Selection process. How do individuals with a criminal history navigate the employment process? What types of organizations are most attractive to individuals with a criminal history? How may organizations recruit applicants with a criminal history who have the greatest potential for success?

2) Socialization of individuals with a criminal history. What types of initiatives are successful to socialize individuals with a criminal history to an organization? What types of personalities, behaviors, etc. may allow individuals with a criminal history to be most successful upon entering a workplace?

3) Work-life experiences and/or challenges. What types of work-life challenges exist for employees with a criminal history? How may these challenges differ from those experienced by employees without a criminal history? How may the interpretation of work-life balance be different for individuals with a criminal history?

4) Organizational policies and practices. How may current policies and practices promote positive work experiences for those with a criminal history? What types of organizational policies and practices inhibit employees with a criminal history from fully engaging in their work?

5) Responses from colleagues. How do colleagues respond to individuals with a criminal history? What are the characteristics of colleagues who are more or less supportive of working with this population?

6) Applicability of various management concepts (e.g., impression management, facades of conformity) by this population within the workplace, and how the usage may be similar or different to individuals without a criminal history.


Submissions are due by October 5, 2018. Manuscripts should be submitted online at and should follow the Submission Guidelines available at: Please note that all submissions will be subject to the standard EDI double-blind review process.
For questions regarding this special issue, please contact any of the Guest Editors.


Ali, A. A., Lyons, B. J., & Ryan, A. M. (2017). Managing a perilous stigma: Ex-offenders’ use of reparative impression management tactics in hiring contexts. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(9), 1271-1285.

Griffith, J. N., & Young, N. C. J. 2017. Hiring ex-offenders? The case of Ban the Box. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 36(6), 501-518.

Hughes, T. & Wilson, D.J. Reentry trends in the U.S. 2018. Retrieved from on May 30, 2018.

Kaeble, D. & Cowhig, M. 2018. Correctional populations in the United States, 2016. Retrieved from on June 13, 2018.

Pager, D. 2003. The mark of a criminal record. American Journal of Sociology, 108(5), 937–975.
Shannon, S. K., Uggen, C., Schnittker, J., Thompson, M., Wakefield, S., & Massoglia, M. (2017). The growth, scope, and spatial distribution of people with felony records in the United States, 1948–2010. Demography, 54(5), 1795-1818.

Visher, C., LaVigne, N., & Travis, J. 2004. Returning Home: Understanding the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry: Maryland Pilot Study: Findings from Baltimore. Retrieved from on June 20, 2018.