September 10, 2007

New book highlights prisoner reentry obstacles

Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration
by Devah Pager, Princeton University sociologist

From my Amazon review:

If this depressing book cannot convince people that racism is alive and well in America today, I don't know what could. Dr. Pager reports on an empirical research project in which teams of well-put-together white and black college students went job-hunting in and around Milwaukee, with one member of each team "marked" as an ex-convict. What she found is astonishing. Black job applicants WITHOUT drug convictions fared no better than white ex-cons WITH convictions; with "two strikes" against them, black men with a (bogus) drug conviction had slim odds of getting a call-back from a prospective employer. This problem was especially pronounced in the suburbs, which are gaining an increasing proportion of jobs despite the fact that many job-seekers remain in the cities. Dr. Pager includes informative and well-written chapters on the state of mass incarceration in the United States today, as well as the massive and growing problem of prisoner reentry. With more than 600,000 people pouring out of prisons each year, Dr. Pager's book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the public policy aspects of the reentry problem. This is yet another excellent entry into the recent crop of books cataloging the collateral consequences of mass imprisonment. (See my Amazon list "Prison World" for more.)