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Criminal Stigma, Race, Gender and Employment: An Expanded Assessment of The Consequences of Imprisonment for Employment

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2010, $482,048)

This project involves research on the barriers faced by reentering prisoners in gaining employment. This research builds on earlier work funded by the National Institute of Justice and conducted by Devah Pager. Said research used a randomized employment audit procedure and showed that both black and white males with prison records were less likely to receive job callbacks than their counterparts matched by race who did not have a record. Her results indicate that a criminal record carries considerable stigma, but that race matters more in finding employment.
This study replicates and expands on these findings in several important ways. Researchers are adding Hispanics and females to the research design, thus randomizing by three categories: 1) race/ethnicity (Black, White, Hispanic), 2) gender (male, female), and 3) imprisonment experience (yes/no). This calls for twelve experimental categories. This design was proposed for several reasons. First, little is known about the employment experiences of Hispanic parolees, relative to other groups. Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group among prisoners in the US, and comprise nearly 20 percent of all individuals in custody. Second, female prisoners comprise 10 percent of all individuals sentenced under state and federal jurisdiction, and their share of the imprisoned population has grown faster than that for males since 2000. Third, much has changed since Pager's earlier work, including a tighter employment market, growing pressure on corrections budgets in the face of the economic turndown, and need to understand the experiences of Hispanics and women with prior criminal records seeking employment. The grantee is using two job application procedures: online and in-person. In each procedure, matched subjects apply for the same jobs. Estimates of statistical power suggest that each of the twelve testers need to apply for a minimum of 150 jobs in person. Approximately 1,500 online applications will generate sufficient statistical power to distinguish the effects of race, gender and criminal record. The random assignment within subject group (race/ethnicity x gender x prison experience) suggests a straightforward analysis plan. However, researchers are also conducting a series of regressions for limited dependent variables, as the outcome for the study is a callback from the employer.


Date Created: September 15, 2010