Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Kevin Wolff

Committee Members

Lila Kazemian

Amy Adamczyk

Robert Apel

Subject Categories

Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice | Inequality and Stratification | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Work, Economy and Organizations


punishment, inequality, pretrial detention


Scholars since Rusche (1978 [1933]) have tried to explain the observed relationship between changes in punishment patterns and changes in local labor markets, most recently framing the criminal justice system as a racialized labor market institution. In an era of bail and jail reform, this dissertation contributes to the literature on the causes and consequences of changes in one especially salient form of punishment, pretrial detention. In particular, it focuses on the macro relationship between pretrial detention and local labor markets. Prior research in this tradition has examined how changes in labor markets lead to changes in penality, as reflected in prison rates. How might such labor market fluctuations lead to changes in another measure of penality, pretrial detention rates? Conversely, the collateral consequences literature has closely examined how changes in punishment practices lead to changes in local labor markets. How might changes in another measure of penality, pretrial detention, lead to changes in local labor markets? Further, since the literature on collateral consequences has established that the effects of mass incarceration have strongly differential impacts for different racial groups, how might any such effect of pretrial detention on local labor markets vary by local racial context?

To disentangle these dynamics, this dissertation examines the relationship between pretrial detention and employment in high-population counties across the U.S. from 2009 to 2017. Using a series of static and dynamic panel estimators, this study does not find significant evidence of a general association between pretrial detention and employment. However, the study demonstrates that pretrial detention practices affect employment rates differentially based on the context of local racial composition. The dissertation’s findings may enhance policy debates about pretrial justice reform, expanding discussions to focus differentially on the racialized labor market impacts of reform.

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