In Their Own Voices: Women's Reentry Experiences

Patricia O'Brien, University of Illinois at Chicago
Robin Bates, University of Illinois - Chicago

Recidivism is the consequence of becoming reinvolved in a criminal activity that is reported and acted upon by law enforcement. While remaining uninvolved with the law is an achievement for an ex-inmate, it is only one criterion of community reintegration. Success should also be based on positive accomplishments. Moreover, understanding environmental factors and personal experiences that help or hinder women's successful reintegration is paramount to developing meaningful, targeted programs for women ex-offenders as well as to helping women formulate strategies for negotiating the reentry process. Fifty-five women exiting prison were interviewed twice in prison before release and three times in the six months following release. The focus of the post-release interviews as to uncover elements that facilitate or impede community reintegration. In this paper, we will present results of the post-release interviews, including the importance of expectations about release, supportive relationships, internalized feelings of efficacy, and community linkages to housing and jobs in helping women reconstruct their lives after prison.

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Updated 05/20/2006