U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Neighborhoods, Recidivism and Employment Among Returning Prisoners

Date Published
July 25, 2011

Returning to a more disadvantaged neighborhood was associated with higher risks of absconding and returning to prison for a technical violation, a lower risk of being arrested, and more adverse labor market outcomes, including less employment and lower wages. Cumulative exposure to disadvantaged neighborhoods was associated with lower employment and wages but not related to recidivism. Returning to a more affluent neighborhood was associated with a lower risk of being arrested, absconding, and returning to prison on a technical violation, and more positive labor market outcomes, including greater employment and wages. Being employed substantially reduced the risk of all recidivism outcomes, but there was no evidence that employment mediated the association between neighborhoods and recidivism.

Taken together, these results suggest that the neighborhoods parolees experience during parole were strong predictors of recidivism and labor market outcomes, but there is not a simple answer to the question of what neighborhood characteristics constitute "risky" environments for parolees. This project was the first to assemble and analyze a rich dataset of administrative records on individual parolees and to link these records with data on neighborhood context.

About This Article

The work described in this article was supported by NIJ award 2008-IJ-CX-0018 to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

This article is based on the grantee report "Neighborhoods, Recidivism, and Employment Among Returning Prisoners" (pdf, 132 pages) by Jeffrey D. Morenoff.

Date Published: July 25, 2011