Discrimination by Association: The Role of Race and Exoneration in Hiring Decisions


People convicted of felonies are often discriminated against when applying for jobs after prison (Mikkelson & Schweitzer, 2019). Interestingly, exonerated individuals are also discriminated against upon their release, even though they were wrongfully convicted. To date, there has been no direct comparison of the discrimination between these two groups when they are applying for jobs. The present study closes this gap by comparing the application strength of candidates with varying categories of race, legal status, and community support. We collected data from 299 CloudResearch participants online and presented them with job application materials that they evaluated as if they were hiring managers. Results showed that across all independent variables, the applicant who was guilty of the crime was rated significantly lower than the other candidates. Additionally, the applicant who falsely confessed was also viewed less favorably than the control group in terms of character. These findings suggest that attitude, policy, and program changes are needed to improve the reentry process for people who have been incarcerated, including those who have been exonerated

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This paper was published in Digital Commons @ Butler University.

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