Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Nebraska at Omaha
- Geographic clustering of ex-offenders does not exacerbate employment barriers.
- Older employers are less likely than younger employers to hire ex-offenders.
- Employers who had previously hired an ex-offender were significantly more likely to hold favorable attitudes towards hiring ex-offenders than employers who had not previously hired an ex-offender.
- Employers who had previously been arrested, or who had experience with the criminal justice system, were significantly more likely to hire an ex-offender than those who did not have any experience in the criminal justice system.
In the article, “Does the Concentration of Parolees in a Community Impact Employer Attitudes Toward the Hiring of Ex-Offenders?” Armstrong examined the likelihood of whether an employer would hire individuals who had spent time in the criminal justice system based on the overall concentration of ex-offenders living in that geographic area. Armstrong and her co-author conducted mail surveys and follow-up telephone calls with a random sample of businesses that typically employ ex-offenders within 12 Texas zip-codes (six high parolee concentrations, six low parolee concentrations). The authors found that concentration of ex-offenders in a geographic area was not a significant barrier to employment. The authors recommended that social policies focus on encouraging job growth in these labor markets, rather than focusing on disbursing the geographic concentration of ex-offenders for purposes of finding employment. This study recommends that employment programs for ex-offenders could utilize these findings to inform their work, targeting younger business owners, those who have previously hired ex-offenders and those employers who have had experience with the criminal justice system, as these employers are more likely to hold a favorable opinion of hiring ex-offenders. Overall, Armstrong found that the stigma of hiring those who have spent time in the prison system is much less than previously thought.