This study examined the aggregate impact of incarceration on the quality of community life in areas that have experienced a high concentration of the incarceration of residents.
The study focused on two Tallahassee, Florida, neighborhoods that had been identified earlier (Rose, Clear, Waring, and Scully, 2000) as having high rates of incarceration relative to other locations in that city. Researchers reviewed archival and contemporary documents relevant to the development of these two neighborhoods. Using a snowball approach, researchers interviewed over 30 local officials, community leaders, and social service providers to determine the contemporary social, political, and economic context of the locations. After pilot tests and screening interviews, researchers conducted individual interviews and a series of four focus groups with 39 people either living or working in the neighborhoods, 13 of whom were ex-offenders. The analysis suggested four domains that captured the impact of the processes of removal and re-entry on the individuals, families, and the community-at-large: the problem of stigma, financial effects, issues regarding identity, and the maintenance of interpersonal relationships. Drugs were a pervasive backdrop to the study. Many ex-offenders discussed their personal problems with drug addiction and described how this posed additional challenges for them upon their return to the community. When discussing crime, many community residents quickly mentioned drug dealers and the problems they pose in causing crime in the community. Based on the findings, some of the 16 recommendations are to target families of incarcerated offenders for an array of services; facilitate contact between families and incarcerated family members; provide services to children or inmates to help stabilize their living situation; implement comprehensive prerelease transition plans that address family needs; provide transitional housing for ex-offenders; and modify rules that disallow individuals with a felony record to acquire a lease. 19 references
Date Published: January 1, 2001