Ex-Offenders and the Labor Market

 Law

 14 views
of 24
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Description
We use Bureau of Justice Statistics data to estimate that, in 2008, the United States had between 12 and 14 million ex-offenders of working age. Because a prison record or felony conviction greatly lowers ex-offenders’ prospects in the labor market, we estimate that this large population lowered the total male employment rate that year by 1.5 to 1.7 percentage points. In GDP terms, these reductions in employment cost the U.S. economy between $57 and $65 billion in lost output.
Share
Tags
Transcript
    Ex-offendersand the Labor Market  John Schmitt and Kris Warner November 2010 Center for Economic and Policy Research 1611 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 400Washington, D.C. 20009202-293-5380www.cepr.net  CEPR Ex-offenders and the Labor Market  I Contents Executive Summary...........................................................................................................................................1   Introduction........................................................................................................................................................2   Estimating the Size of the Ex-offender Population.....................................................................................3    The Effects of Imprisonment and Felony Conviction on Subsequent Employment and Wages.........8   Longitudinal Surveys of Individuals...........................................................................................................8   Employer Surveys..........................................................................................................................................9    Audit Studies................................................................................................................................................10    Aggregated Geographic Data....................................................................................................................11    Administrative Data....................................................................................................................................11    Assessment of Employment Effects........................................................................................................11   Estimating the Impact of the Ex-offender Population on Total Employment and Output................12   Conclusion........................................................................................................................................................14    Appendix...........................................................................................................................................................15   Releases.........................................................................................................................................................15   Lifetime Probability....................................................................................................................................18   References.........................................................................................................................................................19    About the Authors  John Schmitt is a Senior Economist and Kris Warner is a Program Assistant at the Center forEconomic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C.  Acknowledgments  The authors thank Dean Baker for helpful comments. CEPR thanks the Ford Foundation, thePublic Welfare Foundation, and the Arca Foundation for generous financial support.  CEPR Ex-offenders and the Labor Market  1   Executive Summary  We use Bureau of Justice Statistics data to estimate that, in 2008, the United States had between 12and 14 million ex-offenders of working age. Because a prison record or felony conviction greatly lowers ex-offenders’ prospects in the labor market, we estimate that this large population loweredthe total male employment rate that year by 1.5 to 1.7 percentage points. In GDP terms, thesereductions in employment cost the U.S. economy between $57 and $65 billion in lost output.Our estimates suggest that in 2008 there were between 5.4 and 6.1 million ex-prisoners (comparedto a prison population of about 1.5 million and a jail population of about 0.8 million in that sameyear). Our calculations also suggest that in 2008 there were between 12.3 and 13.9 million ex-felons.In 2008, about one in 33 working-age adults was an ex-prisoner and about one in 15 working-ageadults was an ex-felon. About one in 17 adult men of working-age was an ex-prisoner and about onein 8 was an ex-felon. An extensive body of research has established that a felony conviction or time in prison makesindividuals significantly less employable. It is not simply that individuals who commit crimes are lesslikely to work in the first place, but rather, that felony convictions or time in prison actindependently to lower the employment prospects of ex-offenders.Given our estimates of the number of ex-offenders and the best outside estimates of the associatedreduction in employment suffered by ex-offenders, our calculations suggest that in 2008 the U.S.economy lost the equivalent of 1.5 to 1.7 million workers, or roughly a 0.8 to 0.9 percentage-pointreduction in the overall employment rate.Since over 90 percent of ex-offenders are men, the effect on male employment rates was muchhigher, with ex-offenders lowering employment rates for men by 1.5 to 1.7 percentage points.Even at the relatively low productivity rates of ex-offenders (they typically have less education thanthe average worker), the resulting loss of output that year was likely somewhere between $57 and$65 billion. The rise in the ex-offender population – and the resulting employment and output losses – overwhelmingly reflects changes in the U.S. criminal justice system, not changes in underlying criminal activity. Instead, dramatic increases in sentencing, especially for drug-related offenses,account for the mushrooming of the ex-offender population that we document here.Substantial scope exists for improvement. Since high levels of incarceration are not the result of highlevels of crime, changes in sentencing today can greatly reduce the size of the ex-offenderpopulation in the future. Moreover, the high cost in terms of lost output to the overall economy alsosuggests the benefits of taking action to reduce the substantial employment barriers facing ex-offenders.In the absence of some reform of the criminal justice system, the share of ex-offenders in the working-age population will rise substantially in coming decades, increasing the employment andoutput losses we estimate here.  CEPR Ex-offenders and the Labor Market  2   Introduction Federal, state, and local governments in the United States currently hold about 2.3 million people inprisons and jails 1 and supervise another 5.1 million people on parole or probation. 2 As recentresearch from the Pew Center on the States has emphasized, these figures translate to about one in100 American adults 3 behind bars and about one in 33 American adults 4 under some form of correctional control. 5 In this report, we examine an even larger population connected to the criminaljustice system – the growing number of ex-offenders (ex-prisoners and ex-felons) – most of whomare not currently in prison or jail nor on probation or parole. (See Figure 1 below.) 6   An extensive body of research has established that a felony conviction or time in prison makesindividuals significantly less employable. This effect is not simply that individuals who commitcrimes were less likely to work in the first place. Rather, the best available evidence suggests thatfelony convictions or time in prison has an independent impact that further lowers the employmentprospects of ex-offenders. Given the number of ex-offenders and the best estimate of the associatedreduction in employment suffered by this population, our calculations suggest that in 2008 the USeconomy lost the equivalent of 1.5 to 1.7 million workers, or roughly a 0.8 to 0.9 percentage-pointreduction in the overall employment rate. Since over 90 percent of ex-offenders are men, the effecton male employment rates was much higher, with ex-offenders lowering employment rates for menby 1.5 to 1.7 percentage points. Even at the relatively low productivity rates of ex-offenders (they typically have much less education than the average worker), the resulting loss of output that year was likely somewhere between $57 and $65 billion. The rise in the ex-offender population – and the resulting employment and output losses – overwhelmingly reflect changes in the U.S. criminal justice system, not changes in underlying criminal activity. In 2008, for example, both violent and property crimes were below their 1980 rates,about when the current incarceration boom got underway. Instead, dramatic increases in sentencing probabilities and sentence lengths, especially for drug-related offenses, account for both the increasein the incarcerated population and the mushrooming of the ex-offender population that wedocument here. 7   1 Data on prison and jail inmates for 2008 from Sabol, West, and Cooper (2009). Prisons are state and federal facilities,usually run by the government, but sometimes on a contract basis by private companies, that usually hold convictedcriminals with sentences of a year or longer; jails are local facilities, usually run by local governments, but sometimes by contractors, that usually hold convicted criminals with sentences of less than one year or unconvicted individualsawaiting trial.2 Data for probation and parole for 2008 from Glaze and Bonczar (2009). “Probation is a court-ordered period of correctional supervision in the community generally as an alternative to incarceration. In some cases probation can bea combined sentence of incarceration followed by a period of community supervision. Parole is a period of conditionalsupervised release in the community following a prison term” (p. 1).3 Public Safety Performance Project (2008). Separately, Schmitt, Warner, and Gupta (2010) estimate that one of every 48 working-age men was in prison or jail in 2008.4 Public Safety Performance Project (2009).5 For a recent overview of incarceration and crime in the United States, see Schmitt, Warner, and Gupta (2010). For amodern history of incarceration in the United States, see Abramsky (2007).6 High and low estimates for ex-prisoners and ex-felons vary according to assumptions about recidivism; see text below for details.7 See Schmitt, Warner, and Gupta (2010), pp. 7-9.
Related Search
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks