The effects of pre-service criminal history on recruit performance in the U.S. Navy
Connor, Jeffrey W
Cook, Michael D.
Mehay, Stephen L.
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The purpose of this thesis is to determine the potential gain from using information from state criminal history files as a screen for enlistment. Additionally, two more fundamental questions are addressed. First, what is the level of pre-service criminal behavior in the recruit population and to what extent is it 'hidden' from the Navy? Second, does pre-service criminal behavior affect first term performance, and if so, how large is the effect? The data examined are composed of MEPCOM personnel files combined with state criminal history records which allow determination of recruits' actual recorded criminal backgrounds. Four measures of recruit success are identified: first-term unsuitability attrition; promotion to paygrade E-4; reenlistment eligibility; and retention beyond EAOS. Employing cross-tabulations and logit models, this research compares the effects of juvenile versus adult offenses, felony versus non-felony offenses, and convictions versus arrests on the likelihood of success. The results indicate that a moral waiver process relying on self- disclosure may not be effective in identifying an individual's criminal background and that recruits with pre-service criminal histories are more likely to attrite for unsuitability and are less likely to promote to E-4, be reenlistment eligible, or remain in the Navy beyond their EAOS. This study suggests adult felony criminal histories are effective predictors of future recruit success and recommends using state criminal information in the recruit selection process.
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