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Recidivism and Relationships: Examining the Role of Relationships, Transitions, and Relationship Quality in Reincarceration

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Abstract

Purpose

Marriage encourages desistance, yet how post-release marital transitions (i.e., marital formation and dissolution) impact reentry outcomes is not commonly studied. Romantic partnership formation and dissolution is even less frequently studied. Moreover, the impact of the quality of marital and serious romantic relationships has not yet been linked to reentry outcomes. We explore whether marriage, being in a relationship, and post-release marital and relationship transitions impact reincarceration.

Methods

Using data from the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative, we estimate a series of logistic regressions assessing whether post-release marital or relationship transitions, as well as relationship quality, influence the likelihood of reincarceration.

Results

We find that relationship quality, not marriage or relationship transitions, is associated with a lower likelihood of reincarceration. Being in any relationship, including a marriage, however, is associated with and increased likelihood of reincarceration.

Conclusion

Future research efforts should seek to shed additional light on how the reintegration process is affected by specific types of relationships and relationship transitions, as well as how relationship quality may mitigate negative reentry outcomes.

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Notes

  1. A counterpoint to this argument is assortative mating processes that show offenders develop romantic partnerships with others who are also antisocial and therefore more likely to be supportive of crime.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Eric Hedberg and Adam Fine for their valuable modeling suggestions.

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Appendices

Appendix 1. Full models showing state effects

Table 5 Summary statistics

Appendix 2. Full models showing state effects

Table 6 Predicting reincarceration with marital and relationship status
Table 7 Predicting recidivism with relationship quality for respondents in relationships
Table 8 Predicting reincarceration with marital and relationship transitions

Appendix 3

Table 9 Models showing the Interactions between being in a relationship and exposure to criminogenic peers

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Wallace, D., Larson, M., Somers, L. et al. Recidivism and Relationships: Examining the Role of Relationships, Transitions, and Relationship Quality in Reincarceration. J Dev Life Course Criminology 6, 321–352 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40865-020-00144-6

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