Incarceration, Reentry, and Social Capital: Social Networks in the Balance

12/01/2001

Reentry may be thought of as a community-level process when it occurs in high concentrations. The concepts of social capital and collective efficacy have been used to explain the production and maintenance of disadvantage and its consequences. This paper considers the implications of reentry for social capital and collective efficacy, through its impact on families and other neighborhood collectives and institutions, in neighborhoods that experience concentrated levels of reentry. We show how reentry may affect social capital and collective efficacy either positively or negatively, depending upon how ex-offenders, family members, and neighbors react to reentry problems as they arise. The ramifications of these effects for children are also described. We conclude with a description of approaches to supporting the reentry process that promise to strengthen social capital and collective efficacy.

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