Book Review: Prisoner Reentry at Work: Adding Business to the Mix

DOI10.1177/1057567713487205
Published date01 June 2013
Date01 June 2013
Subject MatterBook Reviews
ought to be; they are analyzing how doctrine developed as it did and suggesting reforms that they
think are realistic. Social forces, not legal reasoning, play the critical role. Those who want more
dramatic legal reform should pay greater attention to, and spend more time working to change, those
larger social and cultural currents.
Melvin Delgado
Prisoner Reentry at Work: Adding Business to the Mix Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2012. 1-188 pp.
US$58 (hardback). ISBN 978-1-58826-818-1
Reviewed by: Rebecca Headley, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA
DOI: 10.1177/1057567713487205
Each year state budgets are cut, corrections system finances are depleted, and large numbers of
convicted offenders are released early from prison. Many newly released offenders do not possess
stable housing, a support system, or the skills required to obtain legitimate employment. Prison
Reentry at Work, by Melvin Delgado, addresses the myriad of problems offenders face when
released from prison, with a specific focus on employment challenges. Delgado provides a great deal
of information about this matter, including difficulties associated with reentry, employment issues,
current opportunities and programs for post-released offenders, future challenges, and possible
implications for theories, policies, and practices of entry. Melvin Delgado, a scholar and professor
of social work at Boston University, is in tune with themes of ‘‘marginalized urban population
groups,’’ as well as programs related to ‘‘community enhancement’’ (Boston University: School
of Social Work, n.d.). Delgado’s expertise of identifying community problems and creating solu-
tions for communities and disadvantaged populations is evident in this reading, as this focus is
sustained throughout the text.
This book serves as a tool for bridging the empirical findings of scholars with the field-based
methods currently employed by practitioners. Prisoner Reentry at Work allows readers to get an
insight into numerous challenges prisoners encounter when released from prison. Delgado generally
uses a simple writing style, permitting readers to easily move through the text. This book is segmen-
ted into seven chapters, which can be clustered into three larger topic areas. The progression of the
chapters included makes logical sense as the book begins with troublesome circumstances post-
released offenders face, then focuses on current solutions and programs that address these issues,
and concludes with potential policies and future obstacles that may be encountered when attempting
to reintegrate this population.
The first three chapters serve as a foundation for the reader by reviewing current topics in prison
reentry, including rates of release and problems encountered once prisoners are released. After
providing readers with an array of problems offenders face (such as housing, alcohol and drug abuse,
mental health, etc.), the author narrows his focus to issues post-released offenders have while
attempting to obtain employment. Delgado establishes links between unemployment status and
heightened rates of recidivism among ex-offender populations. When post-released offender
unemployment rates are compared to unemployment rates of the general population, the amount
of unemployment among post-released offenders is much greater. While the author acknowledges
that offenders may not have received competitive training, lack strong resumes, and may not have
held meaningful employment previously, that does not preclude them from having skills to offer to
future employers. One example given highlights the skills of ex-gang members, explaining they
252 Criminal Justice Review 38(2)

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