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Employment of Persons Released from Federal Prison in 2010

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2021
34 pages

This report fulfills a congressional mandate in the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act, part of the 2019 Defense Reauthorization Act (P.L. 116–92, Title XI, Subtitle B, Section 1124). Congress tasked BJS and the U.S. Census Bureau with reporting on post-prison employment of persons released from federal prison. The records of persons released from federal prison in 2010 (collected by BJS in the Federal Justice Statistics Program) were linked with employment and earnings data from the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics program (collected by the Census Bureau) to estimate the percentage of persons who were employed in the 4 years (16 quarters) after release, as well as their earnings and employment sector. The report presents statistics on both pre-prison and post-prison employment and median earnings, differentiated by age, sex, race and ethnicity, most serious offense, and amount of time served. The report also discusses the industry sectors that employed persons before and after imprisonment.


  • Of the 73,500 persons released from federal prison in 2010, a total of 51,500 (70%) received a Protected Identification Key (PIK) that allowed for linkage to employment records from 2010 to 2014.
  • A third (33%) of persons in the study population did not find employment at any point during the 16 quarters after their release from prison from 2010 to 2014.
  • Persons in the study population convicted of drug offenses had higher post-prison employment rates than persons convicted of other offenses.
  • A higher percentage of females were employed than males in each of the 16 quarters following their release in 2010; however, females who were employed were paid a median of $800 to $1,800 less per quarter than employed males.

Date Published: December 1, 2021