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Imprisonment length and post-prison employment prospects

By Anke Ramakers, Robert Apel, Paul Nieuwbeerta, Anja Dirkzwager and Johan Van Wilsem


This study considers the relationship between imprisonment length and employment outcomes. The data are a unique prospective, longitudinal study of Dutch pretrial detainees (N = 702). All subjects thus experience prison confinement of varying lengths, although the durations are relatively short (mean = 3.8 months; median = 3.1 months). This contrasts with prior research that was limited to the study of American prison sentences spanning an average of 2 years. These data thus fill a gap in the empirical base concerning short-term confinement, which is the norm in the United States (e.g., jail incarceration) and other Western countries. Using a comprehensive array of pre-prison covariates, a propensity score methodology is used to examine the dose-response relationship between imprisonment length and a variety of employment outcomes. The results indicate that, among prison lengths less than 6 months in duration, longer confinement is largely uncorrelated with employment. In contrast, among spells in excess of 6 months, longer imprisonment length seems to worsen employment prospects. © 2014 American Society of Criminology

Topics: Employment, Imprisonment length, Propensity score methodology, The Netherlands, Law, Pathology and Forensic Medicine
Year: 2014
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