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The Demography of Prisoner Reentry: Residential Moves & Changing Social Contexts

a PSC Research Project

Investigators:   Jeffrey Morenoff, David J. Harding

Securing stable housing is one of the most important challenges for former prisoners, yet no prior study has examined the residential mobility or living arrangements of released prisoners. We do know that a large percentage of parolees return to very disadvantaged neighborhood environments. Neighborhoods with high unemployment, poverty, and crime rates are likely to have fewer resources that address the health and economic needs of returning prisoners, exert lower levels of social control, and present greater temptation to return to substance use. This research involves assembling administrative data through a unique arrangement with the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) and prospectively analyzing the neighborhood contexts and living arrangements of returning parolees. The project will assemble, clean, geocode, and merge data from three sources on a one-third sample of parolees released from Michigan prisons in 2003: (1) prospective, spatially referenced MDOC administrative records, (2) tract-level contextual data from both MDOC administrative records and the U.S. Census, and (3) Michigan Unemployment Insurance records. These data will allow us to examine the social and institutional processes that sort returning parolees into different neighborhood environments and living arrangements, and that shape their residential mobility trajectories.

The project is exploratory in that it is the first to assemble and analyze a rich set of administrative records on individual parolees and to link these records with data on neighborhood context. It is also developmental in that it represents the first step in a larger trajectory of research examining the social conditions that affect the health and well-being of returning prisoners, a particularly vulnerable population.

Funding Period: 07/01/2009 to 07/31/2012

Project website: http://www.prisonerreentryresearch.org/

Country of Focus: USA

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