M A R K E D Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration Devah Pager By: Kelly Thayer
CHAPTER 4 • Topic: Crime and finding work • Focus: Effect of a criminal record for blacks and whites separately • Target: Ex-offenders seeking a job or the employer • Method(s): Experimental Research, specifically- an audit study • Goals: To measure the effect of a criminal record on an entry level job position.
If you were an employer hiring for an entry level position, would you hire someone with a criminal record? Why or why not?
What is Mass Incarceration? • “Incarceration is the detention of a person in jail, typically as punishment for a crime” (Wikipedia.com) • Mass Incarceration in the US • “One-third of African American male high-school dropouts under age 40 are currently behind bars. Among all African American men born since the mid-1960s, more than 20 percent will go to prison, nearly twice the number that will graduate college. This extraordinary pattern of penal confinement has been called “mass incarceration,” a rate of incarceration so high that it affects not only the individual offender, but also whole social groups” (Western and Loury 2010).
Experiment • Experimental employment audit study • “Audit studies measure discrimination directly with experimental field-work” (Wikipedia.com). • 2 black testers (Team 1) 2 white testers (team 2) • Teams matched by: age, race, physical appearance, & self-presentation. • Each auditor took terns applying for an entry level position with a resume that contained a criminal record. • “I chose a drug crime (as opposed to a violent or property crime) because of its prevalence, its policy salience, and its connection to racial disparities in incarceration” (Pager 2007, 61).
Continued • The testers were given high school diplomas rather than postsecondary because 70 to 90 percent of prisoners have no more than a high school diploma (Pager 2007, 62) and it had to be congruent to statistics. • Testers were given work histories that consisted of prior entry level positions. • 350 total employers were audited during the study: 150 by the white pair & 200 by the black pair. (b/c black testers receive fewer callbacks on average) • The primary outcome of the experiment is the proportion of applications that received callbacks from employers.
If you were an employer hiring for an entry level position, would you rather hire a black employee or white employee with a criminal record?
Design Issues • “First, in standard audit studies of race or gender, it is possible to construct work histories for test partners in such a way that the amount of work experience reported by each tester is identical” (Pager 2007, 63). • To even out the work histories, one tester spent eighteen months in prisons and the non-offender spent an extra year in high school. • “A second major difference from audit studies of race and gender is that criminal status is not something that can be immediately discerned by the employer” (Pager 2007, 63). • Therefore testers had two forms of information about their criminal record on their resume for the employer. • They had worked while serving time, and listing their parole officer as a reference.
Results- criminal record for whites & blacks • Whites: 17% of whites with criminal records receive callbacks and 34% of whites without criminal records receive callbacks. • A criminal record reduced a callback by 50% • Blacks: Results showed that there were disadvantages for a black with a criminal record in receiving a callback, reducing by more than 60%. • Direct correlation between race and crime • A criminal record can confirm a racial stereotype
clip • Challenges ex-convicts face when looking for work • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ3s6XxeMUg
Do you think discrimination continues to contribute to the employment problems of African Americans? Even if they are qualified?
CHAPTER 5 • Topic: Race discrimination and employment decisions • Focus: The overall impact of race on hiring outcomes • Target: Ex-offenders seeking a job or the employer • Method(s): Experimental Research, specifically- an audit study • Goals: To measure the effect of race on an entry level job position.
The Mark of Race- Impact of Race on Hiring Decisions • “Despite the widespread conscious endorsements of racial equality, deep-seated stereotypes about the intelligence, work ethic, criminality, and cultural disposition of various groups continue to frame our evaluations and decision making in social situations” (Pager 2007, 89). • Previous work “highlights the importance of structural changes in the economy that, although race neutral, have disproportionately affected poor and working-class blacks” (Pager 2007, 89). • Ex. The black-white skill gap • But economist James Heckman explains that differences in skill rather than discrimination was the major disparity between blacks and whites in the 1990’s (Pager 2007, 89).
Results- race • The same audit study was conducted for the impact of race of the tester on their hiring outcomes. • “In this study, a white applicant with a criminal record was just as likely to receive a callback as a black applicant without any criminal history” (Pager 2007, 91). • “Being black in America today is just about the same as having a felony conviction in terms of one’s chances of finding a job” (pager 2007, 91). • “…it seems to be the case that blacks with or without criminal records are likely to be viewed by employers with suspicion” (Pager 2007, 96).
continued • “In an era of mass incarceration, where one in three young black men will wind up in prison, there is reason to associate blacks with criminal activity. High levels of incarceration cast a shadow of criminality over all black men, implicating even those (in the majority) who have remained criminal free” (Pager 2007, 94). • Media coverage fuels this black male stereotype by focusing on black violent crimes being committed. • Discrimination and stereotyping both act as major barriers to getting hired for young black men.
Clip • Blacks are portrayed in the media as “dangerous, violent, and criminal” (Pager 2007, 95). • http://youtu.be/T_owAgsWlXQ 0:01-2:334:41- 6:10
Problems with the study • Study was conducted in 2001 in metropolitan Milwaukee, Wisconsin. • Explicit protection for people with criminal records • Only relied on job openings in the Milwaukee Journal Sentienland Jobnet. • Milwaukee, in 2001, was the 2nd most segregated city in the country • Possibly, the effects of race are larger here than other urban areas
References • Western, Bruce and Glenn Loury. “The Challenge of Mass Incarceration inAmerica.” (2010). • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration • http://wikis.lib.ncsu.edu/index.php/Audit_Studies