Finding Employment After Prison: Background information when reading Sugar Run

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Sugar Run

by Mesha Maren

Sugar Run by Mesha Maren X
Sugar Run by Mesha Maren
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Jan 2019, 320 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
Buy This Book

About this Book

Finding Employment After Prison

This article relates to Sugar Run

Print Review

Work after PrisonIn Sugar Run, the principal protagonist Jodi McCarty has just been released from prison after serving a nearly 20-year term. She finds life as a free woman more difficult than she imagined, largely due to her inability to find gainful employment. This is a common issue with newly released inmates, and one of the leading causes of recidivism.

According to a 2018 study conducted by the Brookings Institute, only 55% of former inmates report any earned income the first year after their release. Among those who do find work, the median income is just $10,090. Only 20% of working inmates reported earning over $15,000. (The federal poverty line in the United States in 2019 is $12,490 for a single person household.)

A 2018 report by the Prison Policy Initiative states that among the 5 million formerly incarcerated Americans 27% are unemployed. This is five times higher than the rate of unemployment among the general population of the U.S. They further note that, among this group, women of color find it most difficult to find employment, with men of color not far behind. Their research shows that, despite a majority of companies claiming they do not discriminate on the basis of a criminal record when hiring, a criminal history reduces an individual's responses from potential employers by 50%. Former inmates who are white men are more likely to be hired in full time positions, whereas people of color are most likely to find only part time or occasional work.

There are many potential solutions to the problem of unemployment post-incarceration. There is a growing activist movement seeking to "Ban the Box" asking about criminal records on job application forms. Twenty states have passed legislation requiring the removal of this question from applications for public employers, and ten states have laws forbidding this question for both public and private companies. Target Corporation "banned the box" in 2013. The Prison Policy Initiative has suggested a guaranteed basic income for a brief period for the formerly incarcerated upon release, as well as increased insurance and tax benefits for employers willing to hire ex-convicts. Obviously, failure to find a job can be a huge problem for someone just released from prison, and can even push people back into criminal activity, just as it does for Jodi in Sugar Run. A Christian non-profit group called Prison Fellowship works with currently incarcerated individuals, providing mentoring services and job training to prepare them for the transition to life on the outside. A similar program is run by America Works, and this program was the subject of a 2015 study by the Manhattan Institute, which determined that enhanced job training for newly released non-violent offenders substantially lowered the chance of recidivism over the 18-36 months post-prison. Once a person has served their term, it is vital they be permitted and encouraged to rejoin society.

Article by Lisa Butts

This "beyond the book article" relates to Sugar Run. It first ran in the March 6, 2019 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Black Leopard, Red Wolf
    Black Leopard, Red Wolf
    by Marlon James
    If you are looking for an indulgent, escapist fantasy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf may not be for you. ...
  • Book Jacket: That Time I Loved You
    That Time I Loved You
    by Carianne Leung
    Carrianne Leung was a Toronto Book Award finalist for That Time I Loved You as well as for her debut...
  • Book Jacket: The Pianist from Syria
    The Pianist from Syria
    by Aeham Ahmad
    Aeham Ahmad became famous as the face of Syrian suffering when a photo of him playing piano in the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Smiling Man
    The Smiling Man
    by Joseph Knox
    Joseph Knox's latest turns on a simple premise: an unidentified and unidentifiable murdered man is ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    American Princess
    by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    Rated 4.9 stars by BookBrowse members - one of the highest scores of all time!
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    A People's History of Heaven
    by Mathangi Subramanian

    A story of love and friendship, and fighting for the places we love.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Girls Burn Brighter
by Shobha Rao

An extraordinary and heart-rending tale of two girls with all the odds against them.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win The Summer Country

Win up to 12 copies to share with friends or your book club!

A sweeping epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

D T T! Full S A!

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.