U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Drugs, Incarceration and Neighborhood Life: The Impact of Reintegrating Offenders into the Community

NCJ Number
Date Published
226 pages
This qualitative study investigated the aggregate impact of incarceration on the quality of community life in areas with high concentrations of resident incarceration.
As used in this study, "incarceration" refers to the two-pronged process of leaving the community to be incarcerated and then returning from prison to the community. The investigation of this dual-impact process involved a study of two Tallahassee, Florida neighborhoods that had been previously identified as having high rates of incarceration relative to other neighborhoods in the city. Interviews were conducted with over 30 local officials, community leaders, and social service providers to obtain information on the social, political, and economic context of the neighborhoods. Individual interviews and a series of four focus groups involved 39 people either living or working in the neighborhoods, 13 of whom were ex-offenders. The analyses identified four domains in which the dual impact of incarceration was felt in the community: stigma (negative social status); financial (adverse financial effects on offenders, their families, and the neighborhood as a whole); identity (loss of self-worth and self-esteem); and relationships (disruption of interpersonal relationships). The aggregate effect of these impacts is a reduction in the capacity of social supports for all concerned. To address these problems, this report offers 16 recommendations that constitute a comprehensive programmatic response to the problems that arise from high rates of incarceration concentrated in certain communities. Recommendations include targeting families of incarcerated offenders for an array of services, facilitating contact between families and incarcerated family members, providing services to children of inmates to help stabilize their living situation, and implementing comprehensive pre-release transition plans that address family needs. 52 references and appended expert interview topics, screening instrument, and focus group instruments

Date Published: January 1, 2001