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March 1, 2012

"Will Ex-Inmates Who Get Jobs Commit Fewer Crimes?"

The question in the title of this post is the headline of this new entry by Ted Gest over at The Crime Report. Here is how it starts:

The poor national economy has thwarted the notion that most of the 700,000 people released from prison each year can find employment, but criminologists believe it's still important to track who finds work and who doesn't.

In a briefing this week for congressional staff members and others in Washington, D.C., Robert Apel of New Jersey's Rutgers University suggested that success in getting jobs could serve as a "signal to identify people who will desist from crime."

Apel and fellow criminologist Shawn Bushway of the University at Albany wrote the lead article in the new issue of the American Society of Criminology's Journal Criminology & Public Policy.

Bushway, who also spoke at the briefing in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, said that employment of former inmates, even if it is not always successful, can serve an important function as a "risk predictor."  The same offender who is motivated enough to find a job may also be one who will stop committing crimes, Bushway explained.

In their paper, Apel and Bushway write that their review of studies done on the subject suggests that employers should not automatically reject all offenders for jobs. Some employers, they said, "may already be using completion of employment training programs (either pre-release or post-release) to identify 'good employees' from the pool of low-skill labor."  The criminologists questioned state laws that ban offenders from entire categories of work.

The article from Criminology & Public Policy referenced in this piece is available at this link.

March 1, 2012 at 09:44 AM | Permalink


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I wouldn't think that the answer to this question would really be all that controversial: of course. The research I'm familiar with indicates that those offenders with jobs and community ties are less likely be recidivists than those without. I suppose it could be that those who are motivated to get jobs are also motivated to stop committing crime, but I can also state that it's quite demoralizing to be turned down for a job you're otherwise qualified for on the basis of a prior conviction (which, in turn, makes one wonder why bother).

Posted by: Guy | Mar 1, 2012 3:30:21 PM

A meta-analysis, “Correlates of Re-arrest among
Felony Domestic Violence Probationers [’94-’08]”
in Fed. Probation Jour. 72-3, found
*employment instability* to be the 3rd or 4th best predictor (of re-arrest).
[Marital status (single) and prior substance abuse convictions were 1st and 2nd.

Posted by: Adamakis | Mar 2, 2012 11:32:13 AM

"may already be using completion of employment training programs (either pre-release or post-release) to identify 'good employees' from the pool of low-skill labor." ???

Posted by: Thomas Sabo Charms | Mar 5, 2012 2:16:35 AM

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