Race-Specific Employment Contexts And Recidivism

Xia Wang, Daniel P. Mears, William D. Bales

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    64 Scopus citations


    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, we 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 exprisoners. However, we 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. We discuss the findings and their implications for theory, research, and policy.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1171-1211
    Number of pages41
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Nov 2010


    • Employment
    • Ex-prisoner reentry
    • Recidivism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
    • Law


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