Black and Latinx persons are overrepresented in the population of people who are incarcerated, on probation and on parole in the United States. Empirical investigations on the breadth and depth of the disparate outcomes for incarcerated Black and Latinx persons remain limited, presenting historical gaps in the understanding of community corrections at different time periods. Taking the position that history repeats itself and that data on racial and ethnic inequalities from the past are as relevant as data in the present, this study examines the relationship between race and community corrections during the 1980s, filling a historical void in the documentation, statistical rigor, and understanding of disproportionate probation outcomes. A nationally representative sample of 12,368 people on probation in the United States during the late 1980s was used to examine Minority Threat Theory, yielding the findings that an individual’s race and ethnicity, as well as the community’s racial and ethnic composition were predictive factors of a probationer being rearrested for a felony charge. The findings suggest that racial and ethnic disparities in community corrections existed almost four decades ago and the crafting of policies that foster a fair community corrections system should look to the past as well as the present when tailoring and implementing community alternatives to incarceration.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Alexander, M. (2012). The new jim crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York: The New Press.
Al-Tayyib, A. A., Koester, S., & Riggs, P. (2017). Prescription opioids prior to injection drug use: Comparisons and public health implications. Addictive Behaviors, 65, 224–228.
Ayres, I., & Borowsky, J. (2008). A study of racially disparate outcomes in the Los Angeles Police Department. Los Angeles: ACLU of Southern California.
Beaver, K. M., DeLisi, M., Wright, J. P., Boutwell, B. B., Barnes, J. C., & Vaughn, M. G. (2013). No evidence of racial discrimination in criminal justice processing: Results from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(1), 29–34.
Bell, S. D. (2014). The long shadow: Decreasing barriers to employment, housing, and civic participation for people with criminal records will improve public safety and strengthen the economy. W. St. L. Rev., 42, 1.
Blount-Hill, K. L., & St. John, V. (2017). Manufactured “mismatch” cultural incongruence and black experience in the academy. Race and Justice, 7(2), 110–126.
Bouvier, B. A., Elston, B., Hadland, S. E., Green, T. C., & Marshall, B. D. (2017). Willingness to use a supervised injection facility among young adults who use prescription opioids non-medically: A cross-sectional study. Harm Reduction Journal, 14(1), 13.
Bowling, B. (2018). Pulled over: How police stops define race and citizenship. Policing and Society, 28(5), 626–629.
Chatfield, C. (2018). Introduction to multivariate analysis. Abingdon: Routledge.
Cochran, J. C., & Mears, D. P. (2015). Race, ethnic, and gender divides in juvenile court sanctioning and rehabilitative intervention. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 52(2), 181–212.
Crenshaw, K. W. (1988). Race, reform and retrenchment: Transformation and anti-discrimination law. Harvard Law Review, 101, 1331–1387.
Danielle Kaeble, Lauren E. Glaze. (2016). Bureau of Justice Statistics. Correctional Populations in the United States, 2015)
Edkins, V. A. (2011). Defense attorney plea recommendations and client race: Does zealous representation apply equally to all? Law and Human Behavior, 35(5), 413–425.
Evans, D. N., Blount-Hill, K. L., & Cubellis, M. A. (2018). Examining housing discrimination across race, gender and felony history. Housing Studies, 1-18.
Evans, D. N., Szkola, J., & John, V. S. (2019). Going Back to College? Criminal Stigma in Higher Education Admissions in Northeastern US. Critical Criminology, 1-14.
Farrington, D. P., & Welsh, B. C. (2005). Randomized experiments in criminology: What have we learned in the last two decades? Journal of Experimental Criminology, 1(1), 9–38.
Freiburger, T. L., & Hilinski, C. M. (2013). An examination of the interactions of race and gender on sentencing decisions using a trichotomous dependent variable. Crime and Delinquency, 59(1), 59–86.
Furlan, A. D., Carnide, N., Irvin, E., Van Eerd, D., Munhall, C., Kim, J., et al. (2018). A systematic review of strategies to improve appropriate use of opioids and to reduce opioid use disorder and deaths from prescription opioids. Canadian Journal of Pain, 2(1), 218–235.
Gabbidon, S. L., Higgins, G. E., & Potter, H. (2011). Race, gender, and the perception of recently experiencing unfair treatment by the police: Exploratory results from an all-black sample. Criminal Justice Review, 36(1), 5–21.
Garland, D. (2001). The culture of control (Vol. 367). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Geller, A., & Curtis, M. A. (2011). A sort of homecoming: Incarceration and the housing security of urban men. Social Science Research, 40(4), 1196–1213.
Gelman, A., Fagan, J., & Kiss, A. (2007). An analysis of the New York City police department’s “stop-and-frisk” policy in the context of claims of racial bias. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 102(479), 813–823.
Gray, M. K., Fields, M., & Maxwell, S. R. (2001). Examining probation violations: Who, what, and when. Crime and Delinquency, 47(4), 537–557.
Jung, H., Spjeldnes, S., & Yamatani, H. (2010). Recidivism and survival time: Racial disparity among jail ex-inmates. Social Work Research, 34(3), 181–189.
Kaeble D (2016) Probation and parole in the United States, 2015. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 1–19
Kent, S. L., & Jacobs, D. (2005). Minority threat and police strength from 1980 to 2000: A fixed-effects analysis of nonlinear and interactive effects in large US cities. Criminology, 43(3), 731–760.
Kolodny, A., Courtwright, D. T., Hwang, C. S., Kreiner, P., Eadie, J. L., Clark, T. W., et al. (2015). The prescription opioid and heroin crisis: A public health approach to an epidemic of addiction. Annual Review of Public Health, 36, 559–574.
Kutateladze, B. L., Andiloro, N. R., Johnson, B. D., & Spohn, C. C. (2014). Cumulative disadvantage: Examining racial and ethnic disparity in prosecution and sentencing. Criminology, 52(3), 514–551.
Ladson-Billings, G. (1998). Just what is critical race theory and what’s it doing in a nice field like education? International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 11, 7–24.
Langan, P., & Cunniff, M. (1992). Recidivism of felons on probation, 1986-89. Bureau of Justice Statistics: U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs.
Langan, P., & Dawson, J. (1990). Profile of felons convicted in State Courts, 1986. Bureau of Justice Statistics: U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs.
Long, S. J., Long, J. S., & Freese, J. (2006). Regression models for categorical dependent variables using Stata. Texas: Stata Press.
Marshall, B. D., Green, T. C., Yedinak, J. L., & Hadland, S. E. (2016). Harm reduction for young people who use prescription opioids extra-medically: Obstacles and opportunities. International Journal of Drug Policy, 31, 25–31.
Massoglia, M., Remster, B., & King, R. D. (2011). Stigma or separation? Understanding the incarceration-divorce relationship. Social Forces, 90(1), 133–155.
Matsuda, M. J. (1987). Looking to the bottom: Critical legal studies and reparations. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Review, 72, 30–164.
McGovern, V., Demuth, S., & Jacoby, J. E. (2009). Racial and ethnic recidivism risks A comparison of post incarceration rearrests, reconviction, and reincarceration among white, black, and hispanic releasees. The Prison Journal, 89(3), 309–327.
McKay, T., Lindquist, C., Feinberg, R., Steffey, D., Landwehr, J., & Bir, A. (2018). Family life before and during incarceration. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 57(2), 96–114.
Menard, S. (2002). Applied logistic regression analysis. Thousand Oaks: Sage Pblications.
Miller, T. R., Lawrence, B. A., Carlson, N. N., Hendrie, D., Randall, S., Rockett, I. R., et al. (2017). Perils of police action: A cautionary tale from US data sets. Injury prevention, 23(1), 27–32.
Moineddin, R., Matheson, F. I., & Glazier, R. H. (2007). A simulation study of sample size for multilevel logistic regression models. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 7(1), 34.
Morgan, K. D. (1994). Factors associated with probation outcome. Journal of Criminal Justice, 22(4), 341–353.
Naser RL, Visher CA (2006) Family members’ experiences with incarceration and reentry. Western Criminology Review
Natarajan, M. (Ed.). (2010). International crime and justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Netherland, J., & Hansen, H. (2017). White opioids: Pharmaceutical race and the war on drugs that wasn’t. BioSocieties, 12(2), 217–238.
Olson, D. E., & Lurigio, A. J. (2000). Predicting probation outcomes: Factors associated with probation rearrest, revocations, and technical violations during supervision. Justice Research and Policy, 2(1), 73–86.
Pager, D., & Shepherd, H. (2008). The sociology of discrimination: Racial discrimination in employment, housing, credit, and consumer markets. Annu. Rev. Sociol, 34, 181–209.
Pager, D., Western, B., & Sugie, N. (2009). Sequencing disadvantage: Barriers to employment facing young black and white men with criminal records. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 623(1), 195–213.
Parker, L., & Lynn, M. (2002). What’s race got to do with it? Critical race theory’s conflicts with and connections to qualitative research methodology and epistemology. Qualitative Inquiry, 8, 7–22.
Petersilia, J. (1985). Probation and felony offenders. Fed. Probation, 49, 4.
Petersilia, J., & Turner, S. (1993). Intensive probation and parole. Crime and Justice, 17, 281–335.
Piquero, A. R. (2008). Disproportionate minority contact. The future of children., 18(2), 59–79.
Rehavi, M. M., & Starr, S. B. (2014). Racial disparity in federal criminal sentences. Journal of Political Economy, 122(6), 1320–1354.
Rembert, D. A., Henderson, H., & Pirtle, D. (2014). Differential racial/ethnic predictive validity. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 12(2), 152–166.
Roberts, D. E. (2003). The social and moral cost of mass incarceration in African American communities. Stan. L. Rev., 56, 1271.
Ross, R. R., & Gendreau, P. (Eds.). (1980). Effective correctional treatment. Toronto: Butterworths.
Satter, B. (2009). Family properties: Race, real estate, and the exploitation of black urban America. London: Macmillan.
Scull, A. T. (2014). Decarceration: Community treatment and the deviant-a radical view. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Shannon, S. K., Uggen, C., Schnittker, J., Thompson, M., Wakefield, S., & Massoglia, M. (2017). The growth, scope, and spatial distribution of people with felony records in the United States, 1948–2010. Demography, 54(5), 1795–1818.
Sims, B., & Jones, M. (1997). Predicting success or failure on probation: Factors associated with felony probation outcomes. Crime and Delinquency, 43(3), 314–327.
Snell, T. (1995). Correctional populations in the United States, 1993. Bureau of Justice Statistics., 6(7), 8.
Steinmetz, K. F., & Henderson, H. (2016). Inequality on probation: An examination of differential probation outcomes. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 14(1), 1–20.
Sugie, N. F., & Lens, M. C. (2017). Daytime locations in spatial mismatch: Job accessibility and employment at reentry from prison. Demography, 54(2), 775–800.
Taylor, R. J., Miller, R., Mouzon, D., Keith, V. M., & Chatters, L. M. (2018). Everyday discrimination among African American men: The impact of criminal justice contact. Race and Justice, 8(2), 154–177.
Travis, J. (2005). But they all come back: Facing the challenges of prisoner reentry. Washington DC: The Urban Institute.
Turner, S., Petersilia, J., & Deschenes, E. P. (1992). Evaluating intensive supervision probation/parole (ISP) for drug offenders. Crime and Delinquency, 38(4), 539–556.
Uggen, C., Horowitz, V., & Stewart, R. (2017). Public criminology and criminologists with records. The Criminologist, 42, 3–7.
Visher, C. A., & Travis, J. (2011). Life on the outside: Returning home after incarceration. The Prison Journal., 91(3), 102S–119S.
Western, B. (2002). The impact of incarceration on wage mobility and inequality. American Sociological Review., 67(4), 526–546.
Western, B., & Sirois, C. (2017). Racial inequality in employment and earnings after incarceration. Working Paper. Cambridge, Mass. Massachusetts: Harvard University.
Wooldredge, J., & Thistlethwaite, A. (2005). Court dispositions and rearrest for intimate assault. NCCD News, 51(1), 75–102.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
St. John, V. Probation and Race in the 1980s: A Quantitative Examination of Felonious Rearrests and Minority Threat Theory. Race Soc Probl 11, 243–252 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12552-019-09265-0
- Criminal Justice
- Community Corrections
- Minority Groups