The Effectiveness of State Laws Regarding Prisoner Reentry Public Deposited

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  • April 24, 2020
  • This study analyzes changes in state laws related to prisoner reentry in 37 states from 1991 to 2013 to understand what combination of programs are effective in reducing recidivism. Using an original data set on state laws, I tested how the following types of prisoner reentry reforms impacted recidivism: mental health services, educational opportunities, vocational training, post-release housing assistance, and community programs (such as community leave programs). Previous recidivism research has used smaller sample sizes, typically focusing on one state and the impact of one of the aforementioned programs. This study utilizes a greater sample size (n=10,496,722) across 37 states, and examines the impact of multiple programs to determine which programs are most effective in reducing recidivism. I contend that the more programs implemented by a state, the lower the state’s recidivism rate. My models revealed prisoners in states that had implemented mental health, educational, or community programs were less likely to recidivate. Employment programs produced mixed results across models and housing programs were not shown to lead to a reduction in recidivism. The outcome of my composite variable which included all reentry characteristics did not produce results consistent with my original hypothesis. However, after introducing an interaction variable, it was determined that recidivism is mediated by the amount of time someone served in prison. Given increasing public interest in addressing mass incarceration, the results from the study could have important policy implications for state legislators’ understandings of what programs are correlated with a reduction in recidivism.
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  • In Copyright
  • Unah, Isaac
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • Bachelor of Arts
Graduation year
  • 2020
  • English

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