The United States has the highest rate of incarcerated individuals in the world, with over 2 million people currently behind bars. But while the country spends more than $50 billion a year on incarceration, the economic prospects of people who have been in prison remain bleak.
New research shows that ex-offenders are often severely stifled in making social progress upon re-entering society. And for former inmates who face being stigmatized as a threat by potential employers and others, climbing out of poverty is nearly impossible and can take decades.
Host Michel Martin discusses the long-term affects of incarceration — including stigmas that follow ex-offenders long after their release — with Becky Pettit, a sociology professor at the University of Washington, and Eugene Nelson, who served more than 20 years in prison after being convicted of sexual assault. Nelson is now pursuing his undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with hopes of improving his chances of building a life and career.