Unemployment and Racial Differences in Imprisonment

Race and Crime, p. 189, 1987

21 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2013

See all articles by Samuel Myers

Samuel Myers

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs

William Sabol

Independent

Date Written: 1987

Abstract

Conventional wisdom about the criminal justice system suggests that extralegal factors such as race or employment status should not affect sentencing outcomes. In this paper we examine an alternative model of the relationship between imprisonment and unemployment and race. The model suggests that penal practices are shaped by the labor market conditions of a system of production and that prisons, as part of a larger set of institutions providing support for economically-dependent populations, help to regulate the most superfluous group of workers in the industrial economy of the Northern states of the United States -- unemployed black workers who comprise a large fraction of the pool of "reserve" workers necessary for price stability and economic expansion. We find support for the structural model that links black imprisonment (and Northern imprisonment in general) to manufacturing output and black unemployment.

Keywords: imprisonment, racial differences, unemployment

Suggested Citation

Myers, Samuel and Sabol, William, Unemployment and Racial Differences in Imprisonment (1987). Race and Crime, p. 189, 1987. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2365419

Samuel Myers (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs ( email )

301 19th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

William Sabol

Independent ( email )

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