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How the U.S. imprisons the poor

Around half of people who are imprisoned in the U.S. had no earnings in the years leading up to their incarceration — and the year before the percentage jumps to 80%, according to a new study by the Brookings Institution which examined IRS filings and the BJS National Prisoner Survey.

Data: Brookings Institution; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Why it matters: The U.S. has the highest imprisonment rates in the world — and a quarter of formerly incarcerated Americans will end up back in prison within 8 years of their release, often due to the difficulty in making a living with a criminal record. Joblessness and poverty not only characterize the life of former prisoners, but also the life of those who will end up in prison,

One stark statistic: Three years before being incarcerated, less than half of prime-age men are employed, and of those employed, only 13% earned more than $15,000 — with a median earning of $6,250.

Other notables:

  • About one third of all 30-year-old men without work — and about half of those from below-median income families — are either in prison or are unemployed former prisoners, the study found.
  • Girls from families in the lowest 10% for family income are almost 17 times more likely to be incarcerated than those from the top 10%. For boys, that disparity jumps to a factor of 20.
  • Men growing up in single-parent families in the in the bottom 30% for family income make up almost half of the male prison population.
  • The Brookings study looked at neighborhoods with the highest and lowest incarceration rates. Neighborhoods that were predominately black, had high child poverty rates and high male unemployment rates characterized the top neighborhoods for incarceration. And white, affluent zip codes made up the neighborhoods with the lowest incarceration rates.
  • The jump in no earnings the year before incarceration is most likely linked to criminal activity and jail time before trial or sentencing.

Go deeper: The puzzle of getting former convicts into jobs.

Dan Primack 1 hour ago
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Why the stock markets are tanking

Stock market trader adjusts his glasses.
Photo by Xinhua/Wang Ying via Getty Images

Stock markets are down sharply on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average off around 1.25% as of 2 p.m. EST.

Three key drivers: Tariffs, inter-bank lending rates and Facebook's troubles.

Caitlin Owens 3 hours ago
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How Congress missed yet another chance for an immigration deal

Congressional leaders with President Trump
Congressional leaders with President Trump. Photo: Olivier Douliery - Pool / Getty Images

Congressional leaders and the White House failed to come to an agreement on temporary protections for Dreamers over the past week as part of the giant spending bill, leaving the issue unresolved.

Why it matters: After all of the fighting over President Trump's decision to end DACA — including a government shutdown over it — the White House and Congress ended up with nothing. The issue is currently tied up in the courts. And though both sides agree it's better to give Dreamers more certainty over their future, they just can't agree how to do it.