New Study Shows Barriers to Employment Drive Recidivism

A close up of a person's face

(Wash., DC) – A study released Monday demonstrates that barriers to employment are significant contributors to causing ex-offenders to re-offend. Criminal justice reform issues are often discussed concerning the needed impact on inner-city populations. However, a central finding of the research is that rural areas of the nation, often represented by conservative members of Congress, are also profoundly impacted by a system that prevents rehabilitated offenders from gaining jobs, education and housing.

Commissioned by Futures Restored, the study was the work of a unique collaboration between Texas Southern University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), and Utah State University, which primarily serves a rural community.

“This study demonstrates criminal justice reform is not just an inner-city problem,” said Howard Henderson, Founding Director of the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University, “It is a problem that reaches every corner of the nation.”

Stephen Van Geem, Senior Lecturer and Researcher in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Utah State University, noted the extent of the problem across rural communities, saying, “From right here in Logan, Utah to Sioux County, Iowa and everywhere else in between, it’s clear that continued struggles to find employment and housing are directly related to rates of reoffending.”

“We wanted to take a comprehensive look at the negative impacts of barriers to employment and to have a diverse range of perspectives brought to this research,” said Paul Clayton, Chief Policy Advocate for Futures Restored. “We believe the results show that barriers to employment are a nationwide, bipartisan problem that requires a bipartisan solution. The Clean Slate Act, which would create an expungement mechanism for nonviolent federal ex-offenders, is part of that solution.”

Key Findings

  • Rates of incarceration differ little between rural White majority geographies and urban Black majority geographies
  • Criminal records correlate to higher unemployment at the same rates in rural White majority geographies and urban Black majority geographies
  • Rates of unemployment directly correlate with rates of recidivism across all geographies
  • White-majority rural communities suffer long-term economic and social costs in the same manner as urban Black communities.

A copy of the complete study can be found HERE.

Other Press