Academic journal article Journal of Correctional Education

Employment of Ex-Offenders during the Recession

Academic journal article Journal of Correctional Education

Employment of Ex-Offenders during the Recession

Article excerpt


Researchers have rarely examined postrelease employment among offenders during a period of economic recession. However, studies on employment issues among post-release offenders have showed that released offenders would likely have a higher unemployment rate due to their inadequate education and job skills (Batiuk, 1997; Harlow, 2003; Vacca, 2004). Researchers (Visher et al., 2006) indicate that most released offenders are fully aware of the importance of finding a job in an effort to avoid illegal activities and a subsequent return to incarceration. Realistically, released offenders face incremental barriers to employment due to a criminal history, lack of formal education, job skills, and interpersonal skills (Rossman and Roman, 2003). Even though there are many foreseeable challenges to employment for post-release offenders, this study intends to examine the job sectors that have provided employment for Indiana's ex-offenders during a significant recessionary period. The results of this study may have an impact on correctional education in terms of modifying the program offerings to prepare incarcerated individuals for employment success during an era of high unemployment and fierce competition for available work.

Data Description and Employment Measures

In order to conduct a longitudinal study on employment and unemployment among released offenders, the present researchers compiled the Department's monthly release tiles throughout 2005 and selected 6,561 Indiana offenders, which represented 43 percent of the 15,184 offenders who were released from the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) in 2005. Subsequently, the present researchers accessed three primary data sources to determine the group's experience in employment and wages as well as recidivism. The final dataset combined elements from the IDOC Division of Research and Planning IDOC Education Division, and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD).

The Planning Division of the IDOC maintains the data specific to individual offenders including demographical characteristics, legal records, and other relevant information. The employment-related information in this study is based on employed offenders' W-9 forms. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) provided crucial employment-related information such as offenders' employment (i.e., job title) and quarterly wages to analyze the employment and unemployment rates among released offenders during the recession period.

The main focus of this study was the examination of employment among released offenders during the recession period. Due to the fact that the present data contained employment-related information in the period of 2006-2009, the researchers were able to analyze: (1) the employment rates among released offenders during the recession period (2008-2009); (2) the employment rates before and during the recession period; (3) job sectors that have employed released offenders; and (4) the wages among employed offenders. It is important to note that the employment-related information from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) was consolidated into quarterlybased employment statistics. For the present study, a released offender was regarded as "employed," if he or she had been employed at least one (1) quarter in a given year. Meanwhile, this study has systematically examined the recidivist status among released offenders in the study period. The calculation of the employment rate excludes those recidivist offenders who have returned to incarceration regardless of cause in any given quarter in this study period.

What is Oie Unemployment Rate in the Recession Years among Released Offenders?

Results of this study show, as Table 1 and Figure 1 indicate, that the unemployment rates among released offenders significantly increased from 2006 to 2009. Excluding the recidivist offenders since their release in 2005, the unemployment rate was 48. …

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