Offenders and post-release jobs: Variables influencing success and failure

Byron Harrison, Robert Carl Schehr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Nonviolent adult repeat offenders between the ages of 18 and 35 face nearly insurmountable obstacles to successful reintegration into dominant culture. Upon release from prison ex-offenders receive an average of $69 from their state department of corrections, or between $100-$500 from the Federal Bureau of Prisons to aid their transition back into their communities. As many of them search for legitimate work opportunities, they must deal with the stigma attached to a criminal record and legally enforced employment restrictions barring them from working in several occupations. In addition, most states and the federal government prohibit ex-offenders from accessing public aid funds or financial assistance for school. Finally, many released inmates find they are forced to live in isolated, impoverished communities where there are few job opportunities. In this essay, we analyze secondary data on recidivism and employability for ex-offenders. A review of the literature and history on ex-offender vocational guidance and placement programs documents contrasting views regarding their success and failures, and the reasons for recidivism. We conclude by arguing that sustainable employment is critical to the success of a supervision program, and an ex-offender's avoidance of recidivism. Therefore, resourceful vocational guidance and assistance programs that include financial assistance and follow-up services are more effective than incarceration for some offenders in deterring perpetual recidivism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-68
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Offender Rehabilitation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004


  • Inmate vocational guidance and placement programs
  • Offender rehabilitation
  • Post-imprisonment employment
  • Recidivism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Law


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