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Consequences of a Prison Record for Employment - Interview With Scott Decker

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2014
0 pages

This study of the impact of a prison record on employment prospects compared positive job-seeking variables (an interview, a call-back, a second interview, and a job offer) for three race and ethnic groups, two gender groups, and those who had been to prison and those who had not been to prison.


Regarding race, the study found that race had a stronger impact on positive employment responses than having a prison record. Whites who had been to prison were more likely to get a call-back, a job offer, or a second interview than Blacks and Hispanics who had not been in prison. All of the jobs considered in the study were entry-level jobs in restaurants, sales, and service that were appropriate for someone with a high-school diploma or who had spent time in prison. The differences for gender were not as pronounced. In-person applications by White women who had not been in prison received just over a 20-percent positive response, which was the highest found in any of the analyses. Overall, only 7 percent of the nearly 6,500 jobs applied for in the study received any kind of positive response. This suggests that any person seeking employment, whether or not he/she has a prison record, is likely to receive multiple rejections. This indicates the need to prepare ex-inmates for rejection and the importance of persistence. Another significant finding was the importance of the Internet as a medium for announcing job solicitations and receiving applicant resumes. This suggests that ex-offenders must be trained in both using and searching the Internet for job announcements and in preparing and uploading a resume. A video presentation of this interview is available.

Date Published: February 1, 2014