Incarceration reduces former inmates’ earnings by 40 percent and limits their future economic mobility, according to a new Pew report, Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility. This is a growing challenge now that 1 in every 28 children in America has a parent behind bars, up from 1 in 125 just 25 years ago.
“People who break the law need to be held accountable and pay their debt to society,” said Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States. “At the same time, the collateral costs of locking up 2.3 million people are piling higher and higher. Corrections is the second fastest growing state budget category, and state leaders from both parties are now finding that there are research-based strategies for low-risk offenders that can reduce crime at far less cost than prison.”
The report authored by Pew’s Economic Policy Group and the Pew Center on the States shows that:
“Pew’s past research shows a variety of factors influence economic mobility both within a person’s lifetime and across generations. This report finds that incarceration is a powerful determinant of mobility for both former inmates and their children,” said Scott Winship, research manager of the Economic Mobility Project of Pew’s Economic Policy Group.
- Before being incarcerated, two-thirds of male inmates were employed and more than half were the primary source of financial support for their children.
- After release, former male inmates work nine fewer weeks annually and take home 40 percent less in annual earnings, making $23,500 instead of $39,100. That amounts to an expected earnings loss of nearly $179,000 through age 48 for men who have been incarcerated.
- Of former inmates who were in the bottom of the earnings distribution in 1986, two-thirds remained there in 2006, twice the number of non-incarcerated men.
Incarceration’s long-term economic repercussions are felt by increasing numbers of families and communities now that 2.3 million Americans are behind bars, equaling 1 in 100 adults. Up from 500,000 in 1980, this marks more than a 300 percent increase in the United States’ incarcerated population.
Collateral Costs details the concentration of incarceration among men, the young, the uneducated and African Americans. One in 87 working-aged white men is in prison or jail compared with 1 in 36 Hispanic men and 1 in 12 African American men. Today, more African American men aged 20 to 34 without a high school diploma or GED are behind bars (37 percent) than are employed (26 percent).
The report also shows more than 2.7 million minor children now have a parent behind bars, or 1 in every 28. For African American children the number is 1 in 9, a rate that has more than quadrupled in the past 25 years.
Friday, October 01, 2010
Pew: Incarceration reduces employment, long-term economic growth
A new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts quantifies a lamentable trend that's retarding the economy and employment for millions of Americans: Incarceration strongly correlates to reduced employment and long-term earnings. What's more, the economic harms from imprisonment extend to inmates' children. Here's a remarkable excerpt from Pew's press release: