Does a Rising Tide Lift All Boats? Labor Market Changes and Their Effects on the Recidivism of Released Prisoners

Daniel P. Mears, Xia Wang, William D. Bales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

The dramatic growth in incarceration nationally has increased attention to the factors that influence recidivism among ex-prisoners. Accordingly, scholars have called for research that identifies factors, such as employment opportunities, that may influence reentry experiences. Few studies, however, have examined how changes in labor market conditions affect ex-prisoner offending. Drawing on prior scholarship, this study examines the effect of such changes on the recidivism of ex-prisoners and, in particular, how the recidivism among blacks and whites may be differentially affected by changes in labor market conditions in the areas to which they return. The analyses indicate that, among black male ex-prisoners, labor market declines increase violent recidivism. They also indicate that, among white male ex-prisoners, the effects are more tenuous, influence only property recidivism, and are moderated by prior labor market conditions and criminal history. Implications of the study are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)822-851
Number of pages30
JournalJustice Quarterly
Volume31
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Keywords

  • prisoner reentry
  • recidivism
  • unemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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