September 12, 2011
As part of its efforts to increase public safety, reduce recidivism, and decrease public spending on criminal justice functions, the City of Philadelphia has joined a growing number of local and state governments focused on connecting formerly incarcerated individuals with employment. The rationale - backed by an emerging research literature - is that former inmates are less likely to commit crimes causing them to return to prison if they become gainfully employed. In addition to the social benefits to be derived from reduced crime, there are significant positive economic impacts associated with employing the formerly incarcerated, including increased earnings for former inmates, increased tax revenues from employment, and avoided costs in the form of spending on criminal justice agencies.
The economic benefits of employing the formerly incarcerated are understood in theory, but a more precise understanding of their value has been lacking from policy debates and in reentry advocates' conversations with the business, civic, and government partners necessary to make prisoner reintegration a success. In the interest of gaining a better understanding of the economic and fiscal benefits associated with employing the formerly incarcerated in Philadelphia, the City's Office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety requested the following independent analysis conducted by the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia.
We examined the economic benefits in three categories: earnings for individuals, city sales and wage tax contributions, and costs avoided due to reduced recidivism.
Connecting 100 currently unemployed former inmates to employment yields: