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Public Policy and Administration


Anthony Fleming


Unemployment among formerly incarcerated citizens is a complex problem that continues to grow. Previous reentry studies describe the collateral effects of incarceration on employment from the perspective of formerly incarcerated individuals, yet little academic research exists regarding reentry practitioners' perceptions of constraints during the job search process. Using Goldratt's theory of constraints as the foundation, the purpose of this case study of reentry and employment in a mid-Atlantic state was to explore from the perspective of practitioners, the types of constraints individuals with criminal records face during the job search process, the most difficult phase of the job search process, and recommendations on improving employment outcomes. Data for this study were obtained from 20 reentry professionals in Maryland, who completed an online, open-ended response survey. Data were inductively coded and subjected to thematic analysis procedure. The results showed that practitioners perceived the background check to be the most difficult phase in the job search process, and that external and environmental constraints such as employer bias and social stigma prevent individuals with criminal records from securing job offers. The results also showed that reentry professionals support automatic record expungement, record shielding, employer partnerships, and employment programming that provides job leads, resume building, and mock interview assistance. The positive social change implications stemming from this study include policy recommendations to policy makers to include centralizing and expanding the location of statewide employment centers, record shielding under the Second Chance Act, and fair education access through Ban-the Box for state colleges.