Families, Prisoner Reentry, and Reintegration

  • David J. HardingEmail author
  • Jeffrey D. Morenoff
  • Cheyney C. Dobson
  • Erin B. Lane
  • Kendra Opatovsky
  • Ed-Dee G. Williams
  • Jessica Wyse
Part of the National Symposium on Family Issues book series (NSFI, volume 7)


Since the mid-1970s the US has experienced an enormous rise in incarceration, which has been disproportionately experienced by minorities, particularly young black men, and those with low levels of education. The effects of incarceration are felt not just by the individuals who go to prison but by their families as well. In this chapter we explore the role of family, broadly defined, in prisoner reintegration using administrative data and in-depth interviews with former prisoners in Michigan. More specifically, we attempt to understand what kinds of family supports, obligations, and conflicts enhance or hinder reentry and reintegration after prison. Our results indicate that families play a critical role in reintegration, but that their effects are complex and often countervailing. Families provide essential material resources without which former prisoners would struggle to meet even basic material needs for food and stable housing, but whether and how family members enhance or threaten reintegration and desistance from crime depends on their social and economic resources, their own substance use and criminal behavior, their own health and caregiving needs, and the nature of their relationships with the former prisoner. Implications for future research and policy are discussed.


Romantic Relationship Criminal Justice System Living Arrangement Romantic Partner Residential Mobility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research, Rackham Graduate School, Department of Sociology, Joint Ph.D. Program in Sociology and Public Policy, National Poverty Center, University of Michigan Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy, the Russell Sage Foundation, the National Institute of Justice (2008-IJ-CX-0018), the National Science Foundation (SES-1061018, SES- 1060708), and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1R21HD060160 01A1) and by center grants from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to the Population Studies Centers at the University of Michigan (R24 HD041028) and at UC Berkeley (R24 HD073964), and by the National Institute on Aging to the Population Studies Centers at the University of Michigan (T32 AG000221). We thank Charley Chilcote and Paulette Hatchett at the Michigan Department of Corrections for facilitating access to the data and for advice on the research design. We thank Steve Heeringa and Zeina Mneimneh for advice on the sample design. Brenda Hurless, Bianca Espinoza, Andrea Garber, Jonah Siegal, Jay Borchert, Amy Cooter, Jane Rochmes, Claire Herbert, Jon Tshiamala, Katie Harwood, Elizabeth Sinclair, Carmen Gutierrez, Joanna Wu, Clara Rucker, Michelle Hartzog, Tyrell Connor, Madie Lupei, Elena Kaltsas, Brandon Cory, and Elizabeth Johnston provided excellent research assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Harding
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeffrey D. Morenoff
    • 2
  • Cheyney C. Dobson
    • 3
  • Erin B. Lane
    • 3
  • Kendra Opatovsky
    • 3
  • Ed-Dee G. Williams
    • 4
  • Jessica Wyse
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of California BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Population Studies CenterUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.School of Social Work and Department of SociologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care (CIVIC)Veteran’s Affairs Portland Healthcare SystemPortlandUSA

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