U.S. flag

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

From Prison to Home: Women's Pathways In and Out of Crime

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2009
243 pages
Drawing on primary indepth and survey interviews as well as official records, this study examined the reentry experiences of a matched sample of Black and White women (n=50) residing in metropolitan St. Louis, MO, after their release from prison, with attention to postrelease challenges, strategies for reintegrating into the community, reasons for reoffending, and the motivators and methods used to desist from crime.

Common reentry challenges experienced by the women were finding housing and jobs, as well as obtaining access to health care and drug treatment. Many Black women parolees reported that their families helped them to make the transition from prison to the community; and some of the women, both Black and White, indicated that finding employment was crucial in their successful reintegration efforts. The majority of paroled women who successfully reintegrated into the community noted the importance of having access to resources and support services, regardless of race. Many of these women cited the emotional support and resource referrals of their parole officers as critically important for their successful postrelease transition. The multiple challenges of parole and transition into the community, however, left both Black and White women feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the difficulties they faced. The absence of support systems or the existence of negative support systems, as well as unsupportive parole officers compounded their difficulties. Drug dependence was a major cause of reoffending for both Black and White women. Although most had received some type of substance abuse treatment in their lifetimes, it had not enabled them to overcome their drug addiction. Reasons for desisting from crime included not wanting to return to prison, reuniting with their children, and developing more positive social interactions and resources for a law-abiding lifestyle. Recommendations pertain to treatment access, increasing positive social support, and improving economic conditions. 3 tables, 3 figures, 261 references, and appended survey questionnaire

Date Published: May 1, 2009