On the Job or in the Joint: Employment Outcomes and Criminal Justice Contact

April Fernandes, University of Washington

Existing research has shown that the rise of incarceration that occurred during the prison boom had a substantial effect on the ability of former inmates to retain and procure employment. Given that the jail population grew in line with prison incarceration during this period, the effects of less severe forms of criminal justice contact should be investigated. The conditions and circumstances that render long-term incarceration impactful are also present for arrests, convictions and jail stays. Contact of any form causes separation from society, which can hinder the attainment and maintenance of employment. Furthermore, the stigma from a criminal or arrest record can inhibit employment prospects due to the proliferation of background checks for potential employees. Using the NLSY97, this project explores employment outcomes as a result of arrests, convictions and jail stays. Preliminary results suggest that both employment and wages are negatively affected across all lower level forms of contact.

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Presented in Session 55: Incarceration and Economic Outcomes