A Review of Economic Opportunity and Criminal Justice Programs for Boys and Men of Color

by Thomas LaVeist; Kimberly T. Arnold; Roland J. Thorpe, Jr.

Aug 1, 2017

The authors review the evidence on programs and other interventions to address incarceration and lack of economic opportunity for boys and men of color. In addition, the authors review programs and interventions published in the scientific literature as well as reports, white papers, briefs, and other documents from the gray literature. They conclude with recommendations for action and for research.

  • Economic opportunity interventions could serve dual roles of increasing economic opportunities for males of color and also preventing them from involvement with the criminal or juvenile justice systems. There is a need for rigorous evaluation of existing programs to demonstrate effectiveness.
  • There is a need to replicate evidence-based interventions within different community contexts. For example, can interventions effective in urban areas be effective in suburban or rural areas?
  • There is a need for the creation of programs culturally targeted to each group, but there is a particular need for culturally targeted programs for Native American and Asian boys and young men.
  • There is a need to allocate sufficient funds to appropriately evaluate criminal justice and economic opportunity programs and interventions for males of color.
  • There is a need for more interventions that focus on the cultural, psychosocial, socioeconomic, and health issues that influence successful reentry.
  • Reentry programs should provide services both inside jail or prison and in the community post-release, especially for males of color who disproportionately face economic challenges within their community.
  • There is a need for more intersectional and segmental analysis. That is, do interventions for Latino boys in urban areas work for Latino boys in rural areas?
  • There is a need to increase recruitment within Asian and Latino subgroups to better appreciate the cultural and behavioral differences within these heterogeneous populations of boys and men of color.
  • There is a need to document successful recruitment strategies for each racial/ethnic group of boys and men of color.