From Ex-Offender to New Contributor: An Examination of How a Community-Based Reentry Program Addresses Racial Barriers to Employment

  • Charles H. LeaIII
  • Laura S. Abrams
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


In this chapter, the authors critically examine how community-based reentry program instructors frame their messages concerning opportunities and structural barriers to employment to formerly incarcerated African American and Latino/a men and women. This ethnographic study consisted of 8 weeks of observational field research in a reentry program jointly run by law enforcement and a historic civil rights nonprofit in South Los Angeles, California, in the USA. The paid and volunteer instructors, who were also African American and Latino/a, acknowledged the existence of structural barriers to employment, yet constructed the participant self-transforming individuals who must pursue legitimate employment with a colorblind lens. The findings contribute to a richer understanding of how the hybridization of the reentry enterprise addresses structural barriers to postrelease employment.


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles H. LeaIII
    • 1
  • Laura S. Abrams
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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