Devah Pager died late last week. The Harvard University sociologist did groundbreaking work on the intersection of race, incarceration and employability. It was work that began while she was in graduate school at UW-Madison. Her doctoral thesis became a book, called Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration.
In that book, she documented her experiment, in which two sets of men — one white, and one black — sought employment in Milwaukee, claiming to have the same 18-month prison sentence in their backgrounds. The white men were called back by employers at a far higher rate than blacks. Her work led to a program created by then-President George W. Bush that aimed to help ex-offenders find jobs.
Lake Effect spoke with her about that work in 2007.