The prison boom has been associated with stalled progress in reducing racial inequality due to the disproportionate impact of incarceration on young, low-skilled, African-American males. Past research on inequality and incarceration has focused on the role of incarceration in generating inequality by comparing former prisoners to non-prisoners. However, there are also important racial disparities in post-prison outcomes among former prisoners. Young, black ex-offenders lag behind their white counterparts in achieving some of the traditional markers of the transition to adulthood—residential stability, stable labor market participation, and educational attainment.
Sociologist David Harding and criminologist Heather Harris will examine the extent to which the criminal justice system exacerbates racial inequalities by investigating differences in post-prison outcomes between blacks and whites who were released from prison during the transition to adulthood. They will examine the degree to which prior criminal justice system involvement accounts for racial differences in three post-release outcomes: employment, education, and residential stability.