Objective, impartial data collection by federal statistical agencies is vital to informing decisions made by businesses, policy makers, and families. These measurements make it possible to have a productive discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of particular policies, and about the state of the economy. These economic facts highlight the breadth and importance of government statistics to public policy and the economy.
Individuals who were formerly incarcerated often face great difficulty in re-entering the labor market after incarceration. A multi-pronged approach—inclusive of effective policies aimed at building workers’ skills, communicating their work-readiness to employers, and promoting robust labor markets for low-skilled workers—is necessary for improving employment outcomes for workers with criminal records. In addition, it is important to consider the potential unintended consequences of regulations that restrict information available to employers.
Over the past 30 years, both the incarcerated population and the limitations placed on those with criminal records have dramatically expanded. The consequences of a criminal conviction can last long beyond any imposed sentence, but current efforts to reduce the punitiveness of the criminal justice system tend to focus on sentencing reform rather than consequences for those who have already served prison terms. The author offers three principles for reform efforts aimed at reducing criminal justice punitiveness.
High recidivism rates—some 50 percent of released prisoners return within three years—constitute a major factor driving both high crime rates and high incarceration rates. The unduly sudden process of prisoner release contributes to recidivism by confronting releasees with unnecessarily difficult problems of subsistence and adjustment. Graduated Reintegration addresses that problem by making the release process less sudden.
In this set of economic facts, The Hamilton Project explores the characteristics of the populations of the currently incarcerated and individuals reentering their communities. In 2014, there were approximately seven million Americans living under correctional supervision and even more with criminal records. Successful reintegration is not just a concern for those who return from prison: it is also a matter of public safety and economic necessity. Reducing recidivism is critical for community safety; providing effective rehabilitation and skill development for those incarcerated and formerly incarcerated is critical to strengthening households and the economy.”
Recently, private prisons have become the focus of considerable attention. This economic analysis explores the growth of the private prison industry and provides an economic framework for evaluating them.