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Incentives and Money Generating Activities

This is a pilot project that seeks to understand the relationship between legal employment, informal employment and money generating criminal activities. Specifically, we are interested in how various sources of income overlap and the incentive structures associated with these sources.

Project Team

  • Principal Investigator: Holly Nguyen, Ph.D., Department of Sociology & Criminology (hollynguyen@psu.edu)
  • Co-Investigators: Jeremy Staff, Ph.D., Gary Zajac, Ph.D. Derek Kreager, Ph.D., Thomas Loughran, Ph.D. (University of Maryland)

About the Project

  • Seed funding was provided by the Justice Center to support the collection of pilot data.
  • External funding will be sought to expand the scope of this work.

    Research Questions

    The project is driven by three main research questions:

    1. What are the patterns associated with participation in legal employment, informal employment and money generating crimes?
    2. How are earnings from legal, informal and crime related to participation in each?
    3. How are perceptions of rewards (monetary, intrinsic and social) associated with participation in legal, informal, and money generating criminal activities?

      Project Details

      • This project will focus on interviewing selected inmates within a State Correctional Institution in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
      • Inmates within the selected institution will be recruited for participation in the summer of 2016.
      • This project has the support of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

        Implications

        • Results from this project have the potential to inform 1) theories on decision making and desistance from crime 2) the design of policies that increases the efficacy of custodial and noncustodial employment programs, and 3) improve the general understanding of offenders’ conceptualizations of “work".