Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

02.20 Young climate strikers can win their fight. We must all help

02.20 Voyage to the Garbage Patch: the female sailors taking on plastic

02.19 Bees brought Bavarians together. And they have a lesson for us all

02.19 Florida is drowning. Condos are still being built. Can't humans see the writing on the wall? [Fear that Trump & Fox News incite makes us avoid unpleasant information we need to know]

02.18 Tesla big battery is holding its own in a burgeoning energy storage market

02.18 Trump administration condemned over delaying action on toxic drinking water

02.16 New experimental drug rapidly repairs age-related memory loss and improves mood

02.16 Toxic black snow covers Siberian coalmining region [0:49 video; If its killing us, stop doing it]

02.16 Renewable energy will be world's main power source by 2040, says BP [But in America's capitalistic bubble, bribed-to-be-biased media and government defy reality]

02.16 My generation trashed the planet. So I salute the children striking back

02.16 US coastal businesses hit by everyday impact of climate change, study shows

02.16 What the pesticides in our urine tell us about organic food [What does inaction tell us about capitalism and our government?]

02.14 Exposure to Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risk for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: A Meta-Analysis and Supporting Evidence [If its killing us, make it illegal]

02.14 To avoid environmental catastrophe, everything must change [Consider why this headline is laughable or confusing to many, if not most, Americans...]02.13 Study Shows Toxic Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet [2:10 video; Produce and canned vegetables laced with toxic chemicals—from fertilizers and herbicides, too—must be quickly phased out to use safe organic alternatives]

02.12 Biggest offshore windfarm to start UK supply this week

02.12 Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition

02.12 Politicians are complicit in the killing of our insects – we will be next

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

02.21 Bezos Says Amazon Drones Ready to Deliver Mueller Report to Every American Household

02.21 Devin Nunes Was Trump’s Mole Inside the Gang of Eight

02.21 Alec Baldwin fears for family's safety after Trump 'retribution' threats [0:40 video]

02.20 Intimidation, Pressure and Humiliation: Inside Trump’s Two-Year War on the Investigations Encircling Him

02.20 ‘Sustained and ongoing’ disinformation assault targets Dem presidential candidates [If you can sense them, block them!]

02.20 The 2020 U.S. Presidential Race: A Cheat Sheet

02.20 Why Bernie Sanders' radicalism can take out Trump

02.20 Why vote for Sanders when you can have Elizabeth Warren instead?

02.19 Democratic party elites silence Ilhan Omar at their peril [2:01 video]

02.19 The Political Revolution Is Back: Bernie Sanders Announces 2020 Run for President

Justice Matters

02.19 California Leads 16 States Suing to Block Trump Border Plan

02.19 Fighting pollution: Toledo residents want personhood status for Lake Erie [Hurrah!]

High Crimes?

02.20 Despite the slaughter in Yemen, Britain is still chasing arms sales [and the Great-Again-America is too...Capitalism without morality is horrible]

02.16 Elliott Abrams Defends War Crimes As Happening Back In The ’80s When Everyone Was Doing It

Economics & Corrupting-Capitalism

02.21 Historian who confronted Davos billionaires leaks Tucker Carlson rant

02.20 A Centuries-Old Idea Could Revolutionize Climate Policy

International & Futurism

02.21 John Oliver Compares Brexit ‘Disaster’ to Will Smith’s Genie in Live-Action ‘Aladdin’ (Video) [21:26 video; we’re approaching an Idiocracy-type of society, where stupidity is “normal”]

02.20 House report lays bare White House feud over Saudi nuclear push [Its hard to keep up with all the criminal crap going on...]

02.20 My grandfather was a Nazi. I’ve seen why we need the EU

02.19 Centrism isn’t the solution to the mess we’re in

02.19 Renewables need urgent investment to ease Australia's transmission bottlenecks, experts warn

02.18 Hate-Fest in Warsaw

02.18 They Used To Hold Hands Through the Wall. Now, There’s Razor Wire.

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Print view: Incarceration's Effect on Economic Mobility
BAD POLICIES:

Incarceration's Effect on Economic Mobility

Making convicts into slaves is not the answer.

by Stephen Lendman
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Because of incarceration's lingering impact, successfully reintegrating into society remains elusive for most who try. As a result, "[ex-cons] cost society all over again (with) more victims, more arrests, more prosecutions, and still more prisons."

The Pew Charitable Trusts "uses public opinion polling and other research tools to produce reports that track important issues and trends." Its new report is titled, "Collateral Costs: Incarceration's Effect on Economic Mobility pdf graphic," focusing on America's burgeoning prison population and enormous cost. Now over $50 billion annually, it "consum(es) 1 in every 15 general fund dollars."

The nation spends recklessly on harshness, leaving little left for society's needs. No wonder Pew found that people today are worse off than their parents at the same age, and "42 percent of Americans whose parents were in the bottom fifth of the income ladder remain there themselves as adults." As for race, Americans of color, especially Blacks, fare significantly worse than whites.

Pew studied the relationship between incarceration and mobility, asking to what extent does it create lasting impediments to economic progress. Overall, how does America's burgeoning prison population affect the American dream? Negatively, in fact, for the vast majority because authorities make it so.

The Growth, Scale and Concentration of Incarceration in America

Over 2.4 million prisoners are in federal and state facilities, local jails, Indian, juvenile and military ones, US territories, and numbers held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities (ICE). Half are for nonviolent offenses, many for political activism, and thousands there are immigrant Latinos forced north because NAFTA destroyed their livelihoods and way of life. They're now persecuted ruthlessly by a repressive nation.

Today, America's prison population is the world's largest, exceeding China's at four times the population and the top 35 European countries combined. It wasn't by accident. It followed the last 30 year shift to the right, the war on drugs, get tough on crime policies, three strikes and you're out, a guilty unless proved innocent mentality, and overall judicial unfairness. It's especially impacted society's poor and disadvantaged, people of color mostly, comprising two-thirds of those imprisoned.

As a result, "Incarceration has become a prominent American institution with substantial collateral consequences for families and communities, particularly among the most disadvantaged." Black male high school dropouts are especially impacted. Over one-third aged 20 - 34 are behind bars, three times the rate for whites in the same category.

The Impact of Incarceration on Employment, Wages and Economic Mobility

Former inmates face enormous obstacles. Besides being ex-cons, whatever skills and social networks they had eroded. In addition, many are burdened by substantial financial obligations, including child support, alimony, restitution, and other court-ordered fees. Past studies confirmed it, including Freeman in 1991 finding substantial negative employment effects because of incarceration, and Grogger in 1995 concluding the same thing.

Various others also determined "that incarceration - above and beyond arrest and conviction - negatively affects individual economic prospects," for reasons including:

  • lost work experience in prison;
  • the negative consequences of prison relationships;
  • most released inmates remain supervised on parole, leaving them vulnerable to reincarceration for minor violations;
  • child support, alimony, and/or other arrearages create disincentives to work; and
  • the ex-con stigma dissuades many employers from hiring, not least because of potential legal and financial liabilities.
Incarceration and Work

"Former inmates experience relatively high levels of unemployment and below-average earnings," mainly for educational deficiencies as well as poor work histories. Incarceration greatly compounds these challenges.

Incarceration and Lost Earnings

Former inmates work and earn less than their counterparts. On average, incarceration eliminates around half their earning power through age 48, besides what's lost while in prison.

Incarceration and Economic Mobility

Inmates released from 1986 - 2006 "were significantly less upwardly mobile" than their counterparts. For example,

  • of formerly incarcerated men in the bottom income quintile in 1986, two-thirds stayed there 20 years later;
  • by comparison, only one-third of non-incarcerated men remained stuck at the bottom;
  • only 2% of bottom quintile men reached the top rung compared to 15% for their counterparts; and
  • overall family income came out the same way.

In addition, "the fiscal consequences of the nation's incarceration boom extend well beyond strained state budgets, impairing the livelihoods of former inmates and, by extension, the well-being of their families and communities."

The Intergenerational Impact of Incarceration

Children are also affected, victimized by their parents' crimes emotionally enough to cause social problems, including juvenile delinquency. In addition, economic issues affect them and their families, disrupted by losing a wage-earner. Moreover, maintaining ties with a confined parent, often distantly imprisoned, compounds a bad situation.

Currently, about half the prison population have children under 18, including over 120,000 mothers. Most are Black or Hispanic, leaving behind about 2.7 million minor children, or one in 28 in the country. In 1975, it was only one in 125.

Past studies show "two factors influenced by parental incarceration - family income and children's educational outcomes - have direct implications for children's future upward economic mobility," including families with incarcerated parents having to scramble to make due.

The damage on children is significant. One study found family income falling 22% with imprisoned fathers, and even after release remained 15% lower. Moreover, Economic Mobility Project data show parental income is one of the best indicators of a child's upward economic mobility chances.

Many children with incarcerated parents also fare poorly in school. One study found 23% with an imprisoned father were expelled or suspended, compared to 4% for their counterparts. Given the importance of educational achievement, the findings are especially troubling, bearing negatively on their chances for upward mobility.

Promoting Economic Mobility

Because of incarceration's lingering impact, successfully reintegrating into society remains elusive for most who try, given long odds unfairly stacked against them. As a result, "they cost society all over again (with) more victims, more arrests, more prosecutions, and still more prisons."

Policy makers, however, could initiate good options for better outcomes, including helping former inmates reintegrate productively. Yet, by law, they're prohibited from working in certain industries, living in public housing, and getting various government benefits, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), food stamps, and educational help. Why should be tolerated when efforts should facilitate easier reintegration.

"Providing education, job training opportunities and work supports to offenders (before and after release) has been shown to help (them) secure employment and break the cycle of crime." So why aren't they being provided?

Instead, America races to fill prison beds to satisfy its fast-growing prison-industrial complex appetite, including a private gulag of prisons for profit. Nearly a score of corporation run dozens of facilities with tens of thousands of inmates, about 8% and growing, expected to increase exponentially over the next decade. According to the Wall Street Journal:

"This multimillion-dollar industry has its own advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors."

Moreover, privatized and public prisons take advantage of modern-day slave labor, producing 100% of US military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags and canteens. They also supply 98% of equipment assembly services, 93% of paints and paintbrushes, 92% of stove assemblies, 46% of body armor, 36% of home appliances, 30% of headphones, microphones and speakers, 21% of office furniture, and much more. And the more filled beds, the more cheap labor for greater profits.

Thus, authorities are inclined to maintain the status quo, not improve it, given their ties to corporate interests. So instead of subsidizing rehabilitation, more prisons are built for war on drugs and other nonviolent victims. They're filled with them, inmates who should be home, employed and productive, not behind bars unjustly.

Some Final Comments

Though tattered and vanishing, the American dream once meant that anyone could succeed with enough effort. No longer, especially from society's lower rungs, former inmates and their children, impacted more by eroded public education, the privatization trend, and the enormous cost of college, unaffordable to growing numbers without help.

"Drawn disproportionately from the poorly educated and marginally employed, the millions of people in American jails and prisons faced poor mobility prospects before" put behind bars. Afterwards, their chances are severely impeded, for many, in fact, nil.

As a result, a bad system self-perpetuates, authorities providing little self-correcting help, especially in today's economically challenged environment. Yet research shows workable solutions produce greater equity and prosperity. It remains for federal, state and local officials to adopt them, what so far they've mostly avoided. Society overall loses out, especially those most disadvantaged in it.


Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His blog is sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on December 1, 2010.
 

Public Service Ads: