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Race-Specific Employment Contexts and Recidivism

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 48 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2010 Pages: 1171-1211
Xia Wang; Daniel P. Mears; William D. Bales
Date Published
November 2010
41 pages
This study investigated the relationship between race-specific effects of employment rates and recidivism rates for violent, property, and drug crimes.
Although much literature has examined macrolevel employment contexts and crime rates and, at the individual level, employment and offending, few studies have examined systematically whether macrolevel employment contexts influence individual-level offending. At the same time, emerging literature on prisoner reentry increasingly underscores the potential importance of the social environment for impeding or facilitating successful transitions back into society. All three avenues of inquiry have emphasized the salience of race-specific and offense-specific effects. This study extends prior work on ecology and offending, employment and crime, and prisoner reentry by examining the race-specific effects of unemployment rates and manufacturing employment rates on violent, property, and drug recidivism. By analyzing data on male ex-prisoners released to 67 counties in Florida, the authors found, as hypothesized, that Black ex-prisoners released to areas with higher Black male unemployment rates have a greater likelihood of violent recidivism. No comparable effect was identified for White ex-prisoners. However, the authors found that White ex-prisoners, especially those without prior violent convictions, have a lower likelihood of violent recidivism when released to areas with higher White male manufacturing employment rates. The authors discuss the findings and their implications for theory, research, and policy. Tables, figure, and references (Published Abstract)