Incarceration in Rural Spaces
Researchers, organizers, and activists have documented the impossibilities of finding employment and stable housing and the detrimental impact incarceration has on future earnings. With unemployment, housing insecurity, and poverty all contributing to recidivism, a change is needed to break the vicious cycle of incarceration. To effectively make change, we must also recognize that this is a problem that negatively impacts most communities.
Purpose of Research
This research aims to lessen the barriers to employment for the formerly incarcerated, thereby reducing poverty and recidivism. This research measures the impact of incarceration on unemployment, considering race and population density
Our findings were used in bi-partisan congressional discussions on the Clean Slate Act, which would automatically seal criminal records for certain low-level arrests and nonviolent offenses which would ensure that these individuals would not have to disclose information regarding their arrest or conviction to potential employers, and individuals or organizations would not be able to access that information.
We examined the relationships between jail and prison populations, child poverty, poverty, unemployment, violent crime, and population density to determine the effects of incarceration and found statistically significant results. Across most areas, incarceration (specifically, in prisons) was associated with child poverty, poverty, unemployment, and higher violent crime rates.
Across most areas, incarceration (specifically, in prisons) was associated with child poverty, poverty, unemployment, and higher violent crime rates.
Prison population correlated with unemployment and child poverty even when controlling for race and population density, suggesting that incarceration has negative societal effects across the board for both minority-majority urban areas and White-majority rural communities.
Mass incarceration, particularly for nonviolent offenses, negatively impacts our society at the community, state, and national levels and requires bipartisan efforts to correct these negative effects through policy. In addition to policies that reduce incarceration, the Clean Slate Act could lessen the burden placed on formerly incarcerated individuals by helping them gain employment, one of the most essential steps of the reentry process. Without employment, the likelihood of experiencing poverty, housing instability, food insecurity, and recidivism increases. Individuals who have completed their sentences should be able to start fresh and get a fair shot at meaningful employment and financial well-being.
Op Ed from The Hill
Rural white-majority geographies have a criminal justice problem, too
Media Attention on the Report
The Center for Justice Research is housed in the Barbara Jordan - Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs
Member of Inter-University Network of Criminal Justice Research Centers
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