- Assistant Professor
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Grassroots campaigns led by former prisoners fighting for the right to work have led to important reforms regulating when and how criminal records may be used in employment contexts in the United States. However, it is still legal to discriminate on the basis of a criminal record, excluding tens of millions of people, who are disproportionately Black, Native American and Latinx, from stable, living wage employment. In contrast to explanations of the problem emphasizing individual employer bias, Afterlives of Conviction: Work, Race and the Criminal Records Complex forefronts the larger structural processes preventing employment. Through ethnographic attention to the daily interactions between hiring managers, criminalized job seekers and their advocates in the metropolitan region east of Los Angeles known as the Inland Empire, the study reveals how in a business climate characterized by regulation, competition and litigation, employers’ hiring decisions are increasingly shaped by logics of preventative risk management they did not invent and do not necessarily share.