Offenders Impacted by Violence-Effects on Reentry-Urban Institute


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Janine Zweig is a senior fellow in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute.  She and others wrote, “Using General Strain Theory to Explore the Effects of Prison Victim Victimization Experiences on Later Offending and Substance Abuse.” The research explores the connection of violence and threats of violence while in prison to later dysfunction and recidivism.

From the study, “We examine the relationship between victimization during incarceration and the likelihood of former prisoners’ subsequent criminal behavior and substance use from a general strain theory (GST) perspective. Data from the multi-site evaluation of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative were used, involving interviews with 543 men and 168 women in 12 states at four time points: once before prison release and 3 times after release. Path analyses show support for GST by indicating that prisoners who are physically assaulted or threatened have negative emotional reactions to such experiences, specifically hostility and depression, which increases their likelihood of violent criminal behavior and substance use after release.”

“Specifically, in-prison victimization leads to hostility once prisoners are released to the community and this hostility, at least in part, leads to criminal behavior, including violent criminal behavior. In-prison victimization also leads to depression upon release, and this depression, at least in part, leads to substance use.”

The program also addressed a non-custodial study and the effects of community and family violence before contact with the criminal justice system.

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