Book Review: Steven Raphael: The New Scarlet Letter? Negotiating the U.S. Labor Market with a Criminal Record


TheNewScarletLetterThe New Scarlet Letter? Negotiating the U.S. Labor Market with a Criminal Record. By Steven Raphael. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute Press, 2014. 107 pp. ISBN 978-0-880994798, $14.99 (Paperback).

Shawn Bushway and Megan Denver of University at Albany, State University of New York recently reviewed the book by Steven Raphael in the August issue of ILR Review.

From the review:

Over the past 15 years, there has been growing awareness that a “lock them up” strategy to crime control ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointdoes not eliminate the problem of crime. The notion that “they all come back” has generated extensive conversations about the challenges returning prisoners encounter. (For example, see Joan Petersilia’s When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry, 2003, and Jeremy Travis’ But They All Come Back: Facing the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry, 2005.) Employment inevitably plays an important role in this discussion, given that employment is normatively how most pro-social adults spend their time and support themselves. Prior academic work (some of it by Steve Raphael and his colleagues) has outlined in detail the complicated relationship between incarceration and employment (e.g., Shawn Bushway et al.’s The Impact of Incarceration on Labor Market Outcomes, 2007). Steve Raphael’s book covers most of this same ground in a short, easy-to-read, and very accessible format that hits the important highlights. As such, it represents a valuable introduction to the issues of employment for individuals with records, particularly for students and interested non-academics who are relatively new to the topic.

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