Crime in America
There are a variety of items on this site addressing the relationship between employment and crime and most criminologists will tell you that jobs are big factors in keeping people out of prison. See http://crimeinamerica.net/2010/05/12/jobs-for-offenders-works-to-reduce-crime-crime-in-america-net/.
There is massive discrimination regarding people who have served time in prison. Quite frankly, the public does not seem to care. All they know is what the media tells them about crime and criminals and that’s enough to convince them that ex-offenders simply won’t do as employees.
Problem is, a minimum or one out of 20 people you encounter on a day-to-day basis has been or currently is in the criminal justice system as either a probationer or parolee. Told this, most people want them working.
The document cited below is from the Urban Institute, one of our favorite agencies creating data on crime; they are fair with research and they write well.
Their document, “Employment after Prison…,” reviews data from three states. Findings:
- Former inmates who worked immediately before prison were half as likely to be incarcerated
- The higher the wages, the less likely the person was to return to prison
- Those who held a job in prison were less likely to be reincarcerated
- Those who were engaged in job training while in prison were also less likely to go back.
Like all research, the document is not uniformly positive. Over two-thirds of those entering prison worked the six months prior to their incarceration, so employment as a detriment to crime has its limitations. Beyond those employed before prison, the differences were not earth-shaking.
But like most research on offender reentry, it’s a down payment to build upon. For example, if those working immediately before prison do so well after release, maybe they should become a priority as to what we do for offenders coming out of prison.
Maybe they are the low-hanging fruit that will provide the biggest impact for the least expenditures.