Incarceration and the Family: A Review of Research and Promising Approaches for Serving Fathers and Families. 5.4 Resumption of Criminal Activity or Substance Use


Insight from qualitative studies suggests that in order to cope with the trauma of separation, much of couples’ conversations in prison focused on how things will change for the better upon release. Men talked about their personal transformations and women responded with hope and commitment to the future (Fishman, 1990). Although many of these promises may be sincere, the strains of reentry and opportunities with old friends often draw men back into their past criminal life. For women, who have held on to their partner’s promises, seeing him fall back on his old criminal patterns can be devastating (Hairston & Oliver, 2006). The odds of success after reentry are not very high: 68% of men are arrested within 3 years of their release, and 52% are back in prison for a new offense or a parole violation (Visher & Travis, 2003). In addition, one month after release, 25% of men report drug use or alcohol intoxication and this percentage increases to 35% one year post-release. Substance use resumption was related to numerous post-release problems including difficulties with family relationships (Visher & Courtney, 2007).

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