Op/Ed: Employment And Crime. Do Jobs Prevent Or Deter Incarcerations?
Employment And Crime. Do Jobs Prevent Or Deter Incarcerations? The following article has been written by Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. It includes editorial content which is the opinion of the writer.
Most offenders were employed before their latest incarceration.
ChatGPT (the new artificial intelligence website) offers the following, “Overall, employment can make a significant difference in terms of reducing incarcerations and promoting a safer and more productive society.” Is this correct?
Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.
Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of directing award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Former police officer. Aspiring drummer.
Author of ”Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization” available at Amazon and additional booksellers.
This article is based on a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) on employment before incarceration.
The survey from BJS asked about employment 30 days before the commission of a crime that resulted in incarceration. If they asked the same question within the context of 60-90 days, the percentage employed would probably be much higher.
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I worked for a variety of criminal justice agencies from law enforcement to corrections as the director of media and public relations.
During public encounters or while doing live talk radio or television shows, the previous employment of offenders within our correctional systems was discussed. The thought was that if the majority of offenders were employed, they wouldn’t be committing crimes and landing in prison.
When I stated that the majority were employed before the crime that brought them to us, most were puzzled. But it’s true, most were employed on a full or part-time basis at the time of their crimes.
That’s not to say that they made a living wage. The percentage of those unemployed is still high, but there are categories where employment before incarceration was considerable.
For example, non-U.S. citizens in state (81%) and federal (78%) prisons had employment percentages that were quite high.
Multiple categories were well above 50 percent. Among state prisoners, whites and Hispanics, 66% each (or two-thirds) were employed. Males in state (62%) and federal (64%) prisons were mostly employed. Almost two-thirds of persons in state prison being held for violent (63%) offenses were employed in the 30 days prior to arrest.
Considering that most offenders in state prisons are violent (68 percent) and most are males and most are white or Hispanic, the percentage employed for these categories approached two-thirds.
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Bureau Of Justice Statistics-Offenders Employed-Key Findings (direct-rearranged quotes)
More than 6 in 10 state (61%) and federal (63%) prisoners were employed in the 30 days prior to arrest for the offense for which they were incarcerated, with about half (49% state and 54% federal) having a full-time job.
About a quarter of persons in state (24%) and federal (25%) prison were unemployed and not looking for work in the 30 days prior to arrest.
Females in state (47%) and federal (55%) prison were less likely to be employed than males in state (62%) and federal (64%) prison.
Among state prisoners, whites and Hispanics (66% each) were more likely than blacks (54%) to be employed in the 30 days prior to arrest.
Among persons sentenced to serve time in federal prison, whites (64%) were more likely than blacks (54%) and American Indians or Alaska Natives (52%) and less likely than Hispanics (71%) and Asians, Native Hawaiians, or other Pacific Islanders (77%) to be employed in the 30 days prior to arrest.
Non-U.S. citizens in state (81%) and federal (78%) prison were more likely than U.S. citizens in state (60%) and federal (58%) prison to be employed in the 30 days prior to arrest.
Almost two-thirds of persons in state prison being held for violent (63%) offenses were employed in the 30 days prior to arrest, compared to more than half of those being held for property (57%) or drug (53%) offenses.
Among persons in federal prison, 80% of those serving time for property, 67% for public-order, 60% for drug, and 58% for violent offenses were employed in the 30 days prior to arrest.
Persons in state and federal prison (59% in each) with one or more prior incarcerations were less likely to be employed than those in state (69%) and federal (73%) prison with no prior incarcerations.
More than half of state (54%) and federal (51%) prisoners whose age at first arrest was younger than 18 were employed in the 30 days prior to arrest, compared to more than two-thirds of those in state (69%) and federal (72%) prison whose age at first arrest was 18 or older.
Bureau Of Justice Statistics
The vast majority of offenders have multiple arrests and/or incarcerations before they go to prison so there are barriers to employment.
Finding employment for offenders on community supervision is a justifiable priority, but with recidivism rates so high, it’s an immense challenge. Why would employers hire someone if it was statistically likely that they would re-offend or be re-incarcerated?
Upon release, because of massive recidivism and the potential for lawsuits if the wrong person is hired (i.e., a person with a violent past working in a nursing home or child care center), it could destroy a business.
It’s in our best interest to employ as many offenders as possible for the right jobs that do not put the public or employer at risk. I know of manufacturers or construction companies that hire numerous people released from prison that are very successful. For the right job, employment can be a bridge to being a good, crime-free citizen. The ability to survive and feed families (most former prisoners have minor children) is important. I’m an advocate for ex-offender employment.
But the belief that employment will keep offenders from being incarcerated isn’t correct; there’s no direct connection. The relationship is complex due to mental health or substance abuse issues.
ChatGPT (the new artificial intelligence website) offers the following, “Overall, employment can make a significant difference in terms of reducing incarcerations and promoting a safer and more productive society.”
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See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.
Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.
US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.
National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.
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