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Effect of Racial Inequality on Black Male Recidivism

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 24 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2007 Pages: 408-434
Michael D. Reisig; Williams D. Bales; Carter Hay; Xia Wang
Date Published
September 2007
27 pages
In testing two hypotheses on racial inequality and African-American male recidivism, this study examined whether recidivism rates were highest among African-American ex-inmates who were released to areas with higher levels of racial inequality.
In following a large cohort of males released from Florida prisons, it was observed that racial inequality in counties where these ex-inmates were released impacted recidivism among African-American males. A significant direct effect of racial inequality on reconviction was observed. It was also found that racial inequality amplified the effects of criminal history on reconviction. With study limitations identified, this research extends prior theory and research by empirically linking racial inequality to African-American male recidivism. Macrostructural opportunity theorists posit that the unequal distribution of economic resources across racial groups promotes animosities among disadvantaged minorities, disrupts community integration, and fosters criminal activity. Guided by this framework, this paper hypothesizes that African-American ex-prisoners who reenter communities with high levels of racial inequality are more likely to commit new crimes. Support for this argument is found for a large group of males (N=34,868) released from State prisons to 62 counties in Florida over a 2-year period. Tables, figures, appendixes A-C, and references