Sep 1, The Effects of Incarceration on Intimate Partner Relationships Decreased Likelihood of Marriage and Family Involvement . Prospective research will allow us to make causal inferences about the effects of the prison experience on and Re-Entry of Ex-OffendersJustice-Involved PopulationsFamily. employers to consider rehabilitated ex-prisoners as applicants. . Recent empirical research directly addresses such issues of causality in two separate ways. Feb 6, Prisoners released when manufacturing and construction jobs are plentiful in work programs for ex-offenders should take note of similar evidence. factor when evaluating the causal relationship between work and crime.”.
There is substantial research on the U. So, research is mixed, showing that people associate negative qualities with criminals, but differ in the degree of stigmatizing attitudes they have toward prisoners.
Across non-correctional stigmatized groups e. Lebel also found that having more parole violations was correlated with perceiving more stigma.
Jail Inmates’ Perceived and Anticipated Stigma: Implications for Post-release Functioning
In sum, these studies show that many offenders agree that the public stigmatizes offenders as a group, which we know is linked with poor psychological health and social functioning in other stigmatized groups. Results showed that people living with HIV perceived more stigmatizing attitudes than the public reported on all 15 items of the questionnaire. No such studies have been conducted with offenders. Research on the impact of anticipated stigma in any stigmatized group is scant.
Quinn and Chaudoir examined psychological distress in people with different concealable stigmatized identities e. No study has examined anticipated stigma in relation to future indices of psychological or social adjustment. As such, we do not know what outcomes may or may not be uniquely associated with anticipated stigma.
Race Differences Research shows that there may be differences in how African American and Caucasian people think about stigma. Supporting this idea, Winnick and Bodkin found that Caucasian prisoners were more likely to endorse secrecy as a strategy for coping with stigma when compared to African American prisoners.
The Implications of Stigma for Subsequent Functioning Research with mentally ill individuals has shown that perceived stigma predicts subsequent negative psychological and social consequences.
Link and colleagues assessed perceived stigma and withdrawal tendencies in relation to future self-esteem at six and 24 month follow-ups. They found that perceived stigma and withdrawal tendencies predicted low self-esteem at both follow-up points when controlling for baseline levels of self-esteem and depression.
Also, in a study of people with bipolar disorder, Perlick and colleagues found that perceived stigma predicted lower social adjustment with people outside of the family seven months after initial assessment. Of the few studies that have investigated perceived stigma with offenders, none employed a longitudinal design. This is especially problematic as stigma is theorized to be a substantial barrier to the successful reentry of ex-offenders into society.
In the criminology literature, labeling theory proposes that structural and public stigma results in offenders feeling like outsiders, causing them to withdraw from the community, and engage in higher rates of criminal actions. Research comparing officially labeled felons considered the stigmatized group to non-labeled felons lends some support to this theory.
Chiricos, Barrick, and Bales found that labeled felons do subsequently engage in more crime than those not labeled felons; however, individuals were not randomly assigned to condition presumably more serious offenders were labeled felons, whereas less serious offenders were processed as non-felons.
First, how much stigma do offenders perceive from the public toward their group and how much stigma do they anticipate personally experiencing? We hypothesize that offenders will perceive more stigma from the public toward criminals than they expect to personally experience. We expect that offenders will report perceiving more stigma from the public than community members report. Research with people living with HIV suggests that stigmatized people may overestimate the prevalence of stigmatizing attitudes held by the public Green, Third, does perceived stigma predict post-release employment and recidivism?
His first prison sentence was a three-year term at age 21 for breaking and entering an unoccupied building; he explained that he and his brother, who had been homeless, were seeking a place to sleep. At 26, a third drunken driving conviction landed him in prison again. During this prison bit, DeAngelo was diagnosed with severe depression, bipolar disorder, and acute anxiety, and realized that these conditions had been accentuated by his alcoholism.
When he was paroled, DeAngelo's year-old girlfriend picked him up from prison, and he moved in with her and her mother. In an interview two months following his release, DeAngelo explained that although his living situation was stressful, it was far superior to the alternative, a homeless shelter: Well, I ain't got nowhere to go I'm not about to go to no homeless shelter [laughs].
That would just mess me up emotionally. Like, I'm living in a homeless shelter? Even though it's sort of like that same thing here because it's not my house. But it's not as bad as the homeless shelter. People will see me going in and out of there And they all just raggedy, broke.
It would depress me. I ain't going there. But I know I really don't have no other option. Although residing with his girlfriend and her mother was far from a perfect living situation, DeAngelo remained there in the months following his release because he had no other options, and worried that going to a homeless shelter would trigger a bout of depression and return to drinking. Living with his girlfriend, DeAngelo felt secure that he had a roof over his head and food to eat, at least for the time being.
Six months after he was released, he revealed that negative characteristics of his girlfriend and the relationship were beginning to outweigh the benefits, which eventually led him to leave the house and the relationship, at least for a time.
Though this relationship was severed relatively quickly, it nonetheless had important material consequences for him; because he had been able to save money during his stay, he was able to move into his own apartment with the help of a state program for returning prisoners.
The importance of even a minimal level of material support is clear when we contrast DeAngelo's experience with that of the single Randall, a year-old African-American who, like DeAngelo, grew up in a troubled home in Detroit and was on parole for the second time.
Randall had nine felonies, including firearm possession, car theft, and drug dealing. Due to his criminal past, he was estranged from most of his family and had no romantic partner to call on for help.
Randall paroled to a drug program in Detroit and then bounced around for over six months between homeless shelters, programs, and couches before finding a more permanent home with his half-sister. With a long felony record, no high school diploma, no telephone, and often no money for bus fare, Randall was never able to find a job. Although he was determined to straighten out before he left prison, after weeks without any money except what he could beg from family and friends, he went back to selling marijuana: I'm going to be on the real.
I know it was wrong, but I've been selling weed. Trying to keep some money in my pocket. But I ain't out here just selling to anybody, I'm out here trying to keep some money in my pocket until I find a job. I don't like walk around with no pound [of marijuana], or nothing like that on me I sort of try to maintain. Randall's drug dealing was never discovered by his parole officer or the police, and he stopped after he finally found a permanent home with his step-sister.
Like DeAngelo, many of our participants relied on romantic partners for material support, even when they worried that the relationship was otherwise unsupportive of their desistance goals. Consider Jennifer, 38, who had been a severe heroin and crack addict since adolescence. Throughout her adult life her main sources of financial support had been drug-selling and her male partners.
Although she recognized that he was not a positive influence on her desistance goals, she stayed with him because he offered substantial material support: A few months following her release, the opportunity arose for Jennifer to inherit a trailer home from an ailing, older aunt. However, with no income, no credit, and a felony conviction, she could not sign the trailer park lease or afford the rent alone. While the relationship was short-lived, as conflict over his reliance on prescription painkillers escalated into an incident of domestic violence, it allowed her to secure the lot and pay rent until she was able to establish her own public benefits.
Like Jennifer, all of our female participants faced substantial material need, and in several cases had even spottier work histories than the men, having previously relied on prostitution, drug selling, and retail fraud to make ends meet. Role Strain Above we emphasized how material support provided in relationships may support efforts to desist from crime. However, reliance on a partner for material support may also have negative consequences, especially among male returning prisoners, because these situations may lead to role strain.
Failure at the provider role through conventional means may lead to criminal activity as an alternative way to fulfill these responsibilities.
Though clearly consistent with strain theory AgnewGanem and Agnewwe are not aware of any prior research examining the effect of role strain within a partnership on crime.
Consider David, a white year-old with a history of breaking and entering to support his drug habit. They lived in a low-income housing complex with their daughter and Loretta's two other children. To get by, they relied entirely on Loretta's public benefits, including rent vouchers and food stamps; over time David became increasingly stressed about not bringing any income into the household. At his first post-release interview, four weeks after release, he explained that he even considered limiting his own eating because he was not contributing income: I felt like I was taking out of the children's mouth; that's not my food.
After he was returned to prison David noted that the strain of living off his girlfriend's largesse was one of the main factors that led him to resume criminal activity. He had noticed that one of his girlfriend's neighbors often left her apartment for weeks at a time.
Just weeks after our interview, David seized the opportunity and burglarized the neighbor's apartment after a night of drinking. He explained that the main reason he committed the crime was that he could not continue living in the household without contributing financially.
He had planned to pawn the stolen goods to help with household expenses, but police arrived the next morning. It would seem that, for David, being in a relationship initiated a particular role expectation that served more as a motivation for criminal involvement than a protective factor. We observed other men in our sample like David, who described their inability to fulfill the provider role as motivation for income-generating criminal actions.
Moreover, several men who were later arrested for criminal offenses, such as car theft, had in previous interviews expressed considerable discomfort with being unable to contribute. Such role strain can be understood to be closely linked to traditional gender norms that dictate that a man's role in a romantic relationship is to provide material resources. Some of the single men in our sample even cited their inability to fulfill the role of breadwinner as a reason for avoiding romantic relationships.
Lamar, a single African-American man in his forties who had served two prison terms for armed robbery in the past, explains why he has no interest in a serious relationship, not just with his current girlfriend, but with any woman: Have you ever been in a relationship and been the broke party? It doesn't make a good relationship where it's difficult for one to reciprocate. So let's say if I'm unemployed, I'm broke and you have someone who has finances, and it's like they're giving, and I'll just say for me, I don't feel comfortable not being able to reciprocate.
While Lamar describes this concern as emanating out of his own role expectations, he added that some partners could also pressure men to fulfill the provider role, reinforcing the stress of relationship involvement. Despite this, many participants were often left with no choice. Because of their weaker connections to family, they were often dependent upon romantic partners. While some men were able to adapt to this strain by contributing in other ways, such as cleaning, cooking, house repair, and childcare, most understood these in-kind contributions as solutions only in the short-term.
In the long-term, most men believed they could not remain in relationships in which they were unable to contribute monetarily, even if they were able to contribute in these other ways. While our female participants also contributed extensively to housework and childcare, they did not seem to view this as an exchange for the material support they received; rather such labor was described as a normal and expected aspect of their daily routine. More generally, our female participants did not seem to face the internal conflict over relying upon partners for material support.
Consider year-old Michelle, a minister's daughter with a history of serious drug abuse and homelessness. Although the couple broke up and reunited several times over the years that followed, they were together when Michelle entered prison. The relationship was stormy during her incarceration. Michelle barred him from visiting her in prison and refused to talk to him on the phone at times. She was frustrated that he had been able to stay clean while she had not.
Nonetheless, before her release, Michelle discussed numerous ways she planned to rely on him for material support. When she was released, Michelle had little money, no driver's license or car, and no job. In the six months following her release Luke helped substantially by driving her to appointments, covering her expenses and providing her with spending money.
He was also an integral part of her long-term plan to reestablish custody of her daughter. I see this [as] just about a year because of me and my boyfriend working together.
It probably would take me longer if I was doing it on my own, but I'm also not depending on him to do it with me because you never know what's going to happen, and I have to make sure that I can take care of [my daughter] by myself.
But I have a lot of support There's a lot of family support as well as my boyfriend and his family Michelle's concerns about relying on her boyfriend differ from those of our male participants, as she expressed no concerns about being supported by him. Rather, her concern was about the relationship dissolving and how she might survive on her own if it did. Such a perception of relationship insecurity aligns with past research on poor women's beliefs about, and experiences with, romantic relationships Edin and Kefalas Although our female participants did not describe experiencing role strain, material support often came at a price.
Exposure to drugs and alcohol via their partner's use or selling was not uncommon, and having a male partner sign the lease could have serious consequences if the relationship were to go badly, or if she were to experience domestic violence. When women did express fear of material dependence, it was not damage to their gendered self-concept that they feared, but rather a loss of control over their lives. Monitoring and Supervision A pillar of Sampson and Laub's age-graded theory of informal social control is that partners monitor and supervise one another to enforce their mutual obligations and restraints.
For DeAngelo, described above, not only did his relationship provide him with much-needed material resources upon his release from prison, but his girlfriend also provided an important supervisory role, imposing restrictions on his activities and social interactions. Although he initially chafed at the controls his girlfriend imposed upon him, sixteen months after his prison release, he saw her actions differently: I used to think that she was being controlling, but she was really looking out for me, and I guess my pride and my ego was getting in the way, that's why we clashed a lot.
What was she trying to get you to do? Somebody might try and rob you or something. He ain't going to put me in that situation. She just wanted to see me do right, man. I need to do right and I'm not going to say I'm weak and I can't do it on my own, but it's always good to have somebody that's there with you to kind of help keep you on your toes.
While initially DeAngelo's view of his girlfriend's supervisory behavior contributed to conflicts that hastened the relationship's demise, after the two got back together, he reframed this behavior as supportive of his desistance goals.
In tenuous relationships, processes of supervision and monitoring may simulatenously protect against problematic behaviors while spurring conflicts that threaten the very foundation of the partnership. This was the case for year-old Jane, who has a lengthy history of both drug addiction and criminal behavior.
Her most recent period of imprisonment was her fourth. Before going to prison, Jane held a series of unconventional and criminal jobs, from topless dancing and running an escort service to drug selling and prostitution.
And when he's happy, I'm happy. However, Jane's husband also maintained a small side-business selling crack, heroin and other hard drugs to supplement their income.
When his hours at a Detroit factory were scaled back, he began to spend more time away from home selling drugs. Seven months after her release, in our fourth interview, Jane explained that she had relapsed just days previously, using the drugs that her husband kept easily accessible in a bedroom closet.
Jail Inmates’ Perceived and Anticipated Stigma: Implications for Post-release Functioning
Following this relapse, Jane's husband stopped allowing her to use the family car, gave her less spending money, and threatened to cut off her cell phone. He also monitored her daily activities by calling to check on her multiple times each day. Jane's case illustrates the complexity of the connection between relationships and desistance. On the one hand, Jane's husband monitored and supervised her behavior though in an increasingly controlling manner.
On the other hand, his criminal involvement made Jane's desistance goals more difficult to achieve by increasing her access to drugs. Nearly two years after her prison release Jane continued to cycle through periods of relapse and recovery, both of which were supported by her relationship, albeit along different pathways. Because most women's offending was tightly linked to their drug and alcohol abuse, a drug or alcohol-involved partner was unlikely to play a purely supervisory role, as Jane's case illustrates.
Romantic Relationships and Criminal Desistance: Pathways and Processes
The conventionality of the partner similarly influenced men's criminal behaviors, as Lamar eloquently describes. I've been in relationships where the females I was with, they were doing good things and trying to get places in life and so me being in a relationship with them, I'd say that that was rubbing off on me.
Being a thug and a street guy was not something that they wanted within their life, so that was something that I kind of would put on the back burner, and I was striving in that light in which they were shining. In contrast, Lamar also described former partners who did not care about his involvement in crime: But then there was times when I was in relationships with people who liked ripping and running the streets and was very street oriented, so they didn't care about me doing crime, so that made it a lot easier because it wasn't like I had to hide anything.
In contrast, crime threatened his relationships with conventional partners, whose normative lifestyle also served as a model for his own.
Romantic Relationships and Criminal Desistance: Pathways and Processes
Coercion and Negative Social Control Although the restrictions and restraints that romantic partners impose can often benefit returning prisoners in their efforts to desist, in other circumstances, romantic partners channel such influence to encourage or coerce one another into remaining active in crime, substance use, or other forms of antisocial behavior Colvin et al. Coercion can thus be viewed as the negative counterpart to the protective effects of partner-based social control.
Jada, 31, lives in a working-class Detroit suburb. Prior to her incarceration she held a steady job as a home-health aide for 11 years while caring for her two daughters. At our initial in-prison interview she was completing a two-year prison term for smuggling drugs into a men's prison. Jada explained that when she was finally caught, she had been smuggling drugs into the prison for months at her boyfriend's request. At the time of this crime, she had been on probation for drug dealing and firearm possession, the same offenses for which her boyfriend had been incarcerated.
Jada's boyfriend, the father of her younger daughter, was a partner in each of her crimes.
This relationship directly contributed to Jada's criminal involvement, as many of her crimes were facilitated by her boyfriend and often benefited him. Romantic partners also provided our participants with opportunities for drug relapse, which served as pathways to crime. Forty-four year old Kristine was able to establish sobriety in prison, but a past boyfriend and former partner in heroin use remained on the streets.
Although she had avoided seeing or talking to him initially following her prison release, after three months on parole she changed her mind: He called me and asked me how I was doing. While it may have been that deciding to meet him indicated a desire to use again, seeing him also facilitated her relapse. Following this relapse, Kristine absconded from parole and began supporting herself and her drug habit by shoplifting and selling stolen goods. Soon thereafter she was arrested for retail fraud and sentenced to a year in jail.
The facilitation of recidivism by romantic partners was particularly common among female participants who partnered with criminal or drug-using men. It is important to note that we did not see this pathway among our male participants. We believe this is because men's female partners were simply not as criminally involved as were women's male partners. Such support can be a particularly important given the emotional challenges posed by imprisonment: Upon release, former prisoners face a period of emotional upheaval, as their high expectations, for themselves as well as for others, meet often harsh realities.
We observed many instances in which romantic partners provided a sympathetic ear to talk through problems or stressful events, affirmation, and confidence-boosts in an otherwise lonely time, though this was substantially more common among men than women.
These relationships often replaced more harmful alternatives for dealing with stress and emotional problems, such as substance use. Consider year-old Jake, who was released from his second term in prison after serving three years for drunken driving.
Once Jake was paroled, he began a romantic relationship with Anna, a friend of his sister with whom he had corresponded in prison.
Soon thereafter, Jake came to rely on Anna emotionally. Jake valued sharing emotionally with Anna, and was able to talk through the continuing difficulties he experienced interacting with his ex-wife, with whom he has two children: That's one of the things me and her are good at. We discuss everything and anything Past relationships aren't a topic that we can't discuss I talk to her about every time my ex comes over. This support has been critical for Jake, who feels his drinking is triggered by emotional stress.
What are you biggest triggers for alcohol or drugs?
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When I get off of work I feel entitlement to drink because I just worked for the day, you know. I'm not a very angry person but I know anger will drive me to drink very quickly. When I get upset, emotions, past relationships are a good trigger for me. Top five probably deal with my ex-wife, the relationship I'm in, how I'm dealing with my family has a lot to do with relationships, my communication with people. But it's almost like my emotions and keeping that in check. To counter-act this urge to drink at night, Jake made a practice of calling Anna right after work.
However, Anna faced her own struggle with addiction.