« "Higher Education Programs in Prison: What We Know Now and What We Should Focus on Going Forward" | Main | Federal district judge finds confinement condition Connecticut's former death row inmates to be unconstitutional »

August 29, 2019

"The Gendered Burdens of Conviction and Collateral Consequences on Employment"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper recently posted to SSRN and authored by Joni Hersch and Erin Meyers.  Here is its abstract:

Ex-offenders are subject to a wide range of employment restrictions that limit the ability of individuals with a criminal background to earn a living.  This Article argues that women involved in the criminal justice system likely suffer a greater income-related burden from criminal conviction than do men.  This disproportionate burden arises in occupations that women typically pursue, both through formal pathways, such as restrictions on occupational licensing, and through informal pathways, such as employers’ unwillingness to hire those with a criminal record.  In addition, women have access to far fewer vocational programs while incarcerated.

Further exacerbating this burden is that women involved in the criminal justice system tend to be a more vulnerable population and are more likely to be responsible for children than their male counterparts, making legal restrictions on access to public assistance that would support employment more burdensome for women.  We propose programs and policies that may ameliorate these gendered income burdens of criminal conviction, including reforms to occupational licensing, improved access to public assistance, reforms to prison labor opportunities, improvements in labor market information sharing, and expanded employer liability protection.

August 29, 2019 at 04:05 PM | Permalink


Not buying it for one second. The system discriminates against men.

Posted by: William C Jockusch | Aug 29, 2019 11:12:16 PM

Just thinking about it, maybe teacher and nurse careers are typically pursued more so by women than men. However, men do pursue those careers and are held to the same standard. Also men convicted of felonies have made careers out of manual labor such as construction, welding, janitorial services, etc... (which women are less inclined to apply for such work)

What about the ability to get a job in the first place? Men are typically sentenced to incarceration more compared to women who are sentenced to parole or probation more so than men. This gives women the better opportunity for employment as a whole.

Collateral Consequences cannot be considered justified under the retributive theory of punishment because once a sentence is handed down, that serves as the appropriate punishment. Giving someone a life sentence for most felony convictions are not proportional to the crime committed. As far as collateral consequences serving an incapacitation like purpose, I agree that someone convicted of misusing and abusing drugs shouldn't be allowed to be a pharmacist tomorrow. However, if one goes to great lengths to prove themselves capable of working in a field they once abused they should be given a second chance. Should a sex offender ever be given a chance to be a teacher? My answer to that is no and it conflicts with my prior sentence but there are only a few times I would recommend such an action on someone's future ability to commit a crime.

Posted by: James White | Sep 1, 2019 8:19:57 PM

@ William: They're not saying the system *doesn't* discriminate against men, rather, that the burden upon release is heavier. First, it's accurate to say that the financial stakes are higher for a returning citizen who is a single parent - and given the reality that women are more often single parents than men, such a burden is more often placed on women. Second, as stated in the abstract, there are fewer opportunities for education and vocational training in women's prisons than men's nationwide. Men are more likely to be arrested, yes, but once incarcerated, the opportunities to rebuild a life upon release are provided more often for men than women.

Tangentially, the rate of incarcerated women in America is growing at twice the rate as that of men. Just food for thought.

Posted by: Kristen Eby | Sep 3, 2019 1:16:36 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB