The cycle of reentry and reincarceration: Examining the influence on employment over a period of 18 years

Ian A. Silver, Christopher D'Amato, John Wooldredge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objectives: Although reentry is commonly perceived as a singular event, evidence suggests that when formerly incarcerated individuals reenter society they have a heightened likelihood of returning to prison. This heightened likelihood could generate a reentry-reincarceration cycle, where individuals reenter society, become reincarcerated due to situational circumstances, and have to go through reentry again. This cycle is likely to continue until the barriers to reentry are addressed. One known barrier to reentry is the inability to gain and maintain legal employment. While research suggests that incarceration diminishes future employment opportunities, scholars have yet to evaluate the between-individual and within-individual effects of the reentry-reincarceration cycle on future employment outcomes. Methods: Using the NLSY97 birth cohort, the current study evaluated the influence of time spent incarcerated (an approximation of the reentry-reincarceration cycle) on future employment outcomes over an 18-year period. Specifically, two cross-lagged panel models were estimated to examine the between-individual effects of the number of months incarcerated on employment and the number of weeks employed, while two lagged latent growth models were estimated to examine the within-individual effects. Results: In addition to suggesting that the reentry-reincarceration cycle exists, the findings illustrated that the reentry-reincarceration cycle influences between-individual differences on employment outcomes and within-individual changes in employment outcomes over time. Conclusion: The reentry-reincarceration cycle contributes to the difficulties formerly incarcerated individuals have finding and maintaining employment during reentry. Efforts should be made to diminish the likelihood of individuals falling into the reentry-reincarceration cycle, as well as increase employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101812
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
StatePublished - May 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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