Criminal Justice Reform Can Lower Recidivism and Boost Workforce Participation

Ian Black, a former convict, installs a residential garage door as a technician for Pioneer Overhead Doors on Monday, October 9, 2017, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/Washington Post/Getty Images.)

Dear Capitolisters,

One of the United States’ more puzzling and pressing labor force conundrums is the decline in labor force participation among working age adults, especially men. While some—perhaps even much—of this non-participation is benign (attributable to people in school or staying home with kids, for example), a good chunk of it raises real concerns, owed to things like drugs, video games, and welfare programs (especially disability). But a recent CBS news piece hits at another, lesser-covered reason for why many American adults don’t work: They have a criminal record.

Since I covered this issue in my new Cato book and am traveling this week, today’s newsletter will be a lightly edited version of that chapter. Enjoy.

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