Criminal Stigma Race Gender and Employment: An Expanded Assessment of The Consequences of Imprisonment for Employment

Project: Research project

Project Details


Criminal Stigma Race Gender and Employment: An Expanded Assessment of The Consequences of Imprisonment for Employment Criminal Stigma, Race, Gender and Employment: An Expanded Assessment of The Consequences of Imprisonment for Employment Prison populations in the US have shown unprecedented growth over the past three decades. There are over 1.5 million persons in prison, and over 800,000 serving terms of parole. The growth and magnitude of these populations has created a number of challenges for the criminal justice system and federal, state and local governments. One of the key challenges is prisoner re-entry, as more than 90% of all incarcerated individuals return to society. Indeed, over 600,000 prisoners are released each year. A key feature of successful (crime free) return to society is employment. Parolees are more likely to refrain from crime and observe the conditions of their release more successfully if they are employed. But prior research shows that the majority of prisoners particularly Blacks and Hispanics face significant employment hurdles. We propose to conduct research on the barriers faced by returning prisoners in gaining employment. Our research builds on earlier work by Pager (2003; 2009) that used a randomized employment audit procedure. Pagers work showed that both black and white males with prison records were less likely to receive job callbacks than their counterparts matched by race who did not have a record. Her results indicate that a criminal record carries considerable stigma, but that race matters more in finding employment. We propose to replicate and expand on these findings in several important ways. We propose to add Hispanics and females to the research design, thus randomizing by three categories: 1) race/ethnicity (Black, White Hispanic), 2) gender (male, female) and 3) imprisonment experience (yes/no). This calls for twelve experimental categories. We propose this design for several reasons. First, little is known about the employment experiences of Hispanic parolees, relative to other groups. Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group among prisoners in the US, and comprise nearly twenty percent of all individuals in custody. Second, female prisoners comprise ten percent of all individuals sentenced under state or federal jurisdiction, and their share of the imprisoned population has grown faster than for males since 2000. Third, much has changed since Pagers earlier work, including a tighter employment market, growing pressure on corrections budgets in the face of the economic downturn, and the need to understand the experiences of Hispanics and women with prior prison seeking employment. We will use two job application procedures: online and in person. In each procedure, matched subjects will apply for the same jobs. Our estimates of statistical power suggest that each of the twelve testers will need to apply for a minimum of 150 jobs in person. 1500 online applications will generate sufficient statistical power to distinguish the effects of race, gender and criminal record. The random assignment within subject group (race/ethnicity x gender x prison experience) suggests a straightforward analysis plan. However, we also will conduct a series of regressions for limited dependent variables, as the outcome for the study is a callback from the employer. Results will be presented at a variety of conferences designed to reach criminal justice practitioners and policy makers, as well as the research community. An important focus for the dissemination of results will be on state level policy makers who can affect the employment sector. A website for dissemination will be created and a series of reports that focus on the race/ethnicity and gender subcategories will be prepared. A series of scholarly articles will also be developed for publication in major criminal justice and correctional journals.
Effective start/end date1/1/113/31/14


  • DOJ-OJP: National Institute of Justice (NIJ): $482,048.00


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