U.S. flag

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

Going Home (or Not): How Residential Change Might Help Former Offenders Stay Out of Prison - NIJ Research for the Real World Seminar

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2011
10 pages
This is the video and transcript of a presentation from NIJ's Research for the Real World series that examined how residential change might help former offenders stay out of prison.
David Kirk, assistant professor at the University of Texas (Austin), discusses his study that examined how the forced residential migration caused by Hurricane Katrina affected the likelihood that ex-offenders from New Orleans would be re-incarcerated. His study also explored potential strategies for fostering residential change among ex-prisoners, such as parole residency policies and the provision of public-housing vouchers. The New Orleans study found that those people who moved had a lower likelihood of recidivism compared to those who returned to the New Orleans area after the Hurricane. The findings suggest that moving may still be beneficial for ex-offenders in reducing recidivism, even if they are not moving to a great neighborhood in terms of jobs and socioeconomic conditions. Almost 40 percent of the ex-offenders who moved back to their home parishes were in some form of detention within 1 year of their release. For those who moved to new areas, 30 percent were in some form of detention within 1 year. Kirk proposes that the reason for this is that those who moved had a greater likelihood of establishing a new set of daily routines that were conducive to desistance from crime. This desistance in crime persisted for up to 3 years, suggesting that major changes in behavior occurred after the move to a new area. Suggestions are offered for how released prisoners might be persuaded or at least given the opportunity to move to a new area after their release.

Date Published: October 1, 2011