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Racial Inequality in the Transition to Adulthood After Prison

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That formerly incarcerated black men experience poor life-course outcomes relative to other subpopulations is well established, yet our ongoing research indicates substantial racial inequality in outcomes among the formerly incarcerated. Young, black former prisoners lag behind their white counterparts in achieving traditional adulthood markers: education, employment, and residential independence. We examine explanations for these inequalities using longitudinal administrative data on a cohort of male parolees age eighteen to twenty-five. We find that early postprison experiences and social context explain some variation. Considerable racial inequality persists, however, even as we control for pre- and postprison life-course conditions, criminal justice contact, and social context. We discuss this in relation to estimates of discrimination, stigma, and social networks not observable in our data.

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