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Prisoner Reentry in the Era of Mass Incarceration

Prisoner Reentry in the Era of Mass Incarceration

October 2014 | 344 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Understanding and Improving Prisoner Reentry Outcomes  

"Mass imprisonment and mass prisoner reentry are two faces of the same coin.  In a comprehensive and penetrating analysis, Daniel Mears and Joshua Cochran unravel the causes of this pressing problem, detail the challenges confronting released prisoners, and provide an evidence-based blueprint for successfully reintegrating offenders into the community.  Scholarly yet accessible, this volume is essential reading—whether by academics or students—for anyone wishing to understand the chief policy issue facing American corrections."
Francis T. Cullen
Distinguished Research Professor, University of Cincinnati

Prisoner Reentry is an engaging and comprehensive examination of prisoner reentry and how to improve public safety, well-being, and justice in the “era of mass incarceration.” Renowned authors Daniel P. Mears and Joshua C. Cochran investigate historical trends in incarceration and punishment policy, the salience of in-prison and post-prison contexts and experiences for reentry, and the importance of understanding group differences in offending, punishment, and social context. Using extensive reliance on both theory and empirical research, the authors identify how reentry reflects criminal justice policy in America and, at the same time, has profound implications for crime prevention and justice. Readers will develop a diverse foundation for current policies, identify the implications of reentry for families, community, and society at large, and gain a conceptual and empirical toolkit for analyzing and improving the lives of those released from prison.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Mass Incarceration and Reentry  
The Goals of This Book  
Criminological “Versus” Criminal Justice Theory and Research  
Terminology and Scope  
Organization of the Book  
Chapter 2: Historical Trends in Corrections and Reentry Policy and Practice
Trends in Correctional Populations: The Era of Mass Corrections  
Trends in Reentry Policy and Practice  
The Theory, or Causal Logic, of the Punitive Turn in Sanctioning Convicted Felons  
Implications of Historical Trends in Incarceration and Reentry Policy and Practice  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 3: The Causes of Mass Incarceration and Thus Mass Reentry
Causal Complexity in Understanding the Punitive Turn  
Cause 1: Not Crime  
Cause 2: Public Demand for Increased Punitive Sanctioning  
Cause 3: Conservatism, Race, Moral Panics, and the Politicization of Crime  
Cause 4: Increased Belief in the Idea That Individual Responsibility Matters Most  
Cause 5: Exaggerated Claims for Incarceration  
Cause 6: Discounting Effectiveness of Non-Incarcerative Sanctions  
Cause 7: Inadequate Research Documenting the Need for Specific Types of Sanctions  
Cause 8: Economics  
Cause 9. Systems-Level Forces and Dynamics  
Causal Complexity Revisited  
Conclusion, or Why Understanding the Punitive Turn Is Relevant for Reentry Policy  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 4: Profile of the Inmate Population
Why Inmate and Ex-Prisoner Characteristics Matter  
Inmate and Ex-Prisoner Characteristics  
The “Typical Inmate” Profile  
Why Inmate Profiles Change Over Time  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 5: The Prison Experience
Why What Happens in Prison Is Relevant for Understanding Reentry  
The Implications of In-Prison Crime and Misconduct  
Prison Experiences that May Have Implications for Prisoner Reentry  
How Inmates Perceive Themselves and the Prison Experience and Why It Matters  
The (Lack of) Evidence on the Effectiveness of Incarceration  
Concepts of What the Prison Experience Should Be  
Making Greater Accountability Happen  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 6: The Reentry Experience and Reentry Challenges
The Reentry Process and Experience  
The Logic of “Invisible” Punishments and Their Consequences  
Specific Challenges During Reentry  
Implications of Reentry Challenges for Ex-Prisoners and Families and Communities  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 7: Recidivism and Risk Prediction
The Atheoretical Foundation of Mass Incarceration  
The A Priori, Theoretically Predictable Consequences of Incarceration  
Recidivism Rates—A Depressing Problem  
Risk Prediction Approaches  
Risk Prediction Success  
The Challenges of Risk Prediction  
Approaches to Improve Risk Prediction  
Shifting the Focus of Risk Prediction  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 8: Diverse Inmate Populations and Reentry
The Diversity of the Inmate and Ex-Prisoner Population and Why It Matters  
The Youngest Ex-Prisoners  
Female Ex-Prisoners  
Racial and Ethnic Minority Ex-Prisoners  
Other Groups of Ex-Prisoners  
Super-Maximum Security Ex-Prisoners  
Drug-Abusing Ex-Prisoners  
Mentally Ill or Learning Disabled Ex-Prisoners  
Still Other Groups of Ex-Prisoners  
Revisiting Sanctioning and Reentry  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 9: Reentry Policy and What Works to Improve Reentry Outcomes
The Ineffectiveness of Incarceration in Improving Public Safety or Other Outcomes  
The Ineffectiveness of Incarceration Due to Collateral Consequences  
Corrections Efforts Frequently Rest on Weak Theoretical and Empirical Grounds  
Minimal Evaluation of Most Reentry Policies, Programs, and Practices  
Pre-Prison, In-Prison, and Postrelease Approaches to Successful Reentry  
General Guidelines and Strategies for Improving Reentry  
The Importance of Evidence of Cost-Efficiency, Not Just Impacts  
The Need for an Offender, Victim, and Community Justice System  
Reentry Lessons and Convicted Felons Who Don’t Go to Prison  
The Importance of Government Accountability and Evidence-Based Practice  
Discussion Questions  
Chapter 10: Conclusion
Key features


  • The diverse perspective provides readers with a wide range of compelling topics to analyze reentry, improve outcomes, and understand the effect reentry has on the broader criminal justice system trends and policies
  • A chapter on What Works shows that improvements in reentry outcomes ultimately require efforts that address the broad array of forces that contribute to crime and punishment policies
  • The discussion of diverse populations identifies how reentry policies, if they are to be effective, need to address the unique needs of specific inmate groups, including the mentally ill and learning disabled
  • Clear arguments about the issues that necessitate mass incarceration and impact reentry further defend the idea that substantial advances require a better integration of insights from scholarly and practitioner communities
  • Real- world case studies identify how incarceration and reentry policies can be improved to reduce crime and recidivism and improve other reentry outcomes, such as increased employment and reduced homelessness and drug abuse
  • Tables, figures and end-of-chapter review questions amplify critical points and reinforce topics presented in the chapter, as well as provide opportunities to explore their implications  


Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 6

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