Upjohn Institute Press

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Pages: 107
Year Published: 
$14.99 paper
ISBN: 9780880994798
WE Focus Series

The New Scarlet Letter?: Negotiating the U.S. Labor Market with a Criminal Record

Steven Raphael
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Raphael provides a concise overview of the barriers faced by ex-convicts as they attempt to reenter the U.S. labor market. First, he studies the factors that influence the market’s supply and demand sides. Next, he presents an empirical portrait of the inmate population, recently released inmates, and the youth who eventually enter the prison system as young adults. Raphael reviews what is known about how employers use criminal histories in screening job applicants and the empirical research on the effects of a criminal record on labor market outcomes; he then describes programs designed to help inmates enter the labor force that show positive results. Raphael concludes with a set of policy recommendations aimed at addressing the concerns of employers and preparing inmates for the labor force as they exit the prison system.

"Although clearly written for non-academics as an introduction to an important problem, the book is also very useful for policy researchers who appear to be behind the curve when it comes to helping policymakers integrate individuals with records into the labor market. Raphael makes a compelling argument that researchers need to be involved in understanding how the many new policies to reduce incarceration and conviction rates are working. . . . [He] has provided both guidance and an example by being a strong social scientist who is deeply committed to doing foundational, rigorous social science and translating it into useful policy."–Industrial and Labor Relations Review

“This book should be required reading for anyone who cares about prisoner reintegration, labor markets, and crime policy.” –Joan Petersilia, Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law, Stanford Law School

“[T]his book forces researchers and policymakers to think about how changes in police behavior, corrections policies, and employer practices affect crime rates and inequality in the future.”Derek Neal, Department of Economics and the Committee on Education, University of Chicago

This series of "short books" are authored by noted experts who provide a concise discussion of a range of important labor market issues along with the programs and policy recommendations that address those issues. Books in this series are available as free PDF downloads or as paperbacks.

The W.E. Upjohn Institute is a member of the Association of University Presses.

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