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Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

Finding Work on the Outside: Results from the Returning Home Project in Chicago

  • Organization: The Urban Institute
  • Document Type: Report
  • Date Created: Monday, August 06, 2007
  • Submitted: Monday, August 06, 2007
  • Attachment(s): LINK

In 2002, researchers at the Urban Institute launched a longitudinal study of men being released from state correctional institutions in Illinois and returning to Chicago as part of the multi-state Returning Home project. This chapter presents an analysis of data gathered from interviews with these former prisoners before and after their release from Illinois prisons. Specifically, the chapter examines the workforce experiences of 400 men prior to their incarceration, then at an average of two months and six months after release. Few studies have focused on the characteristics of released prisoners who are successful in finding employment after leaving prison. Analyses reported in this chapter add the perspective of self-reports from a recent cohort of former prisoners to existing research. Data on pre-prison and in-prison employment histories and other individual, family, and community factors are analyzed, with an emphasis on how they relate to employment outcomes at about six months after release. Analyses reveal that less than 30 percent were employed at the time of the interview at six months after release and about half (49 percent) reported having worked at least one month since their release. Employment before prison, participation in job training during prison, strong family relationships, and an absence of health problems led to a greater likelihood of finding work after release. Implications of these findings for future research on the employment outcomes of former prisoners are discussed.

This work is Chapter 3 (Pp 80-144) in Barriers to Reentry? The Labor Market for Released Prisoners in Post-Industrial America. Shawn Bushway, Michael A. Stoll, and David F. Weiman (eds.) Russell Sage Foundation. New York, NY. 2007. Read more about this book on the Russell Sage Foundation web site.


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