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Sastry's 10-year study of New Orleans Katrina evacuees shows demographic differences between returning and nonreturning

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Deirdre Bloome wins ASA award for work on racial inequality and intergenerational transmission

Bob Willis awarded 2015 Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Field of Labor Economics

David Lam is new director of Institute for Social Research

Elizabeth Bruch wins Robert Merton Prize for paper in analytic sociology

Next Brown Bag

Monday, Oct 12
Joe Grengs, Policy & Planning for Social Equity in Transportation

David J. Harding photo

Making Ends Meet after Prison: How Former Prisoners Use Employment, Social Support, Public Benefits, and Crime to Meet their Basic Material Needs

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionHarding, David J., Jessica Wyse, Cheyney Dobson, and Jeffrey Morenoff. 2011. "Making Ends Meet after Prison: How Former Prisoners Use Employment, Social Support, Public Benefits, and Crime to Meet their Basic Material Needs." PSC Research Report No. 11-748. December 2011.

Former prisoners are at high risk of economic insecurity due to the challenges they face in finding employment and to the difficulties of securing and maintaining public assistance while incarcerated. This study examines the processes through which former prisoners attain economic security, examining how they meet basic material needs and achieve upward mobility over time. It draws on unique qualitative data from in-depth, unstructured interviews with a sample of former prisoners followed over a two to three year period to assess how subjects draw upon a combination of employment, social supports, and public benefits to make ends meet. Findings reveal considerable struggle to meet even minimal needs for shelter and food, although economic security and stability can be attained when employment or public benefits are coupled with familial social support. Sustained economic security was rarely achieved absent either strong social support or access to long-term public benefits. However, a select few subjects were able to leverage material support and social networks provided by family and partners into trajectories of upward mobility and economic independence. Implications for the well-being of former prisoners and their families are discussed.

Country of focus: United States of America.

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