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Introduction: The Need to Expand Economic Opportunity

The pursuit of economic opportunity for all Americans is as important to the health of the country’s economy as it is to the strength of its democracy. The promise that hard work and determination will yield economic success is a central American ideal, but it has been called into question as secular economic forces and institutional changes have reshaped the American economy and had an uneven impact on Americans’ ability to prosper.

Policies to Reintegrate Former Inmates Into the Labor Force

Incarceration rates in the United States have more than tripled in recent decades as rehabilitation has gradually taken a back seat to a policy agenda emphasizing punishment and incapacitation. This raises important questions about the effectiveness of state and federal prisons in the United States, and about whether the resources required for long prison sentences would be better spent improving prison conditions and expanding rehabilitation programs.