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Limitations

With regards to limitations, we did not observe every session of the 8-week program and our study includes only one cohort. This selection may have limited the full range or transferability of our findings. Additionally, because we were confined to observation as our primary method, the exclusion of interview or focus group data collection methods prevented our ability to triangulate the findings to determine why the instructors framed their job search strategies and messages under an individually focused, race-neutral lens, or why the participants generally supported the instructors’ reentry discourses. While studies using observation as the main mode of data collection may be prone to research bias, the inclusion of two researchers and analysts from different racial and gender backgrounds allowed us to document and interpret our findings from multiple perspectives, which helped to increase the rigor of the study.

Conclusion

The findings presented in this chapter contribute to the literature on the role of the voluntary sector in the criminal justice system. Specifically, our study highlights the ways in which the “colorblind” philosophy, one that assumes opportunities such as employment are equally attainable despite one’s race, can influence the culture of a community-based reentry program and instructors’ of color reentry discourses, including those from an historic civil rights organization. Further research should build on this study in a few key directions. It is important to examine how instructors and participants view this curriculum and its utility in the job search process. Is the program seen as being effective and what are the actual outcomes? On a more macro level, this study also illustrates an interesting way that the voluntary and criminal justice sectors intersect within the community, rather than within the jail or prison setting. The expanding reach of criminal justice system funding toward historically grassroots or civil rights organizations may have implications for building community trust among these agencies. It would be interesting to track, over time, how the positioning and/or expansion of these hybrid models affect the larger community.

 
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