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Crime File: Jobs and Crime

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This video cassette, number 12 in the Crime File series, portrays a panel discussion of the empirical evidence of the relationship between unemployment and crime as well as job programs for ex-offenders in New York City and Philadelphia.
The moderator notes that although most offenders are poor and unemployed, there is no proof of a direct relationship between the unemployment rate and the crime rate. Panelist Philip Cook, a researcher at Duke University, reports that his studies show no relationship between the homicide rate and economic conditions, but there is some evidence that burglary and robbery rates rise during recessive economic periods. He indicates, however, that the correlation is not significant enough to make the crime rate an issue in determining economic policy. The moderator reports on an experiment by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation that assessed the impact of an ex-offender job program on participant recidivism. Results indicate that participant recidivism was similar to that of nonparticipants. A film clip is used to describe the Vera Institute's Neighborhood Work Project for ex-offenders in New York City. In this program, recently released ex-offenders are paid the minimum wage to help renovate city-owned abandoned buildings. The Life Skills Program, used to complement the Neighborhood Work Project, is also described. It teaches participants the practical skills required to obtain employment. Panelist Michael Smith, Director of the Vera Institute of Justice, describes the programs and their impact in detail. Panelist John McDonald, the director of Impact Services in Philadelphia, Pa., describes the program he operates, which teaches juveniles basic job skills and helps them set employment goals. The panel also discusses equity problems that might be associated with singling out ex-offenders and problem youth to participate in special employment programs.

Date Published: January 1, 1984