Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Reentry of Substance Abusing Female Ex-Offenders from Prison to an Urban Community
by Williams, Aldrenna P., Dr.P.H., The George Washington University, 2012, 185; 3503066
Abstract (Summary)

Female offenders represent a population segmented by class and race in that the majorities are unskilled, poorly educated, unemployed or underemployed and are women of color. While this group has traditionally represented a small portion of the adult offender population the female prison population grew by 832% from 1977 to 2007 while the male population grew 416% during the same time period. The main driver behind increased rates of incarceration of women over the past two decades in the U.S. is not attributed to women exhibiting more criminal behavior but is due to governmental policy shifts in the mandatory minimum sentences, the get tough on crime attitude and the war on drugs. Many female offenders before going to prison and after being released often fund their use of illegal substances by being involved in other criminal activities to include prostitution, drug distribution and committing theft. While women of all races use drugs at approximately the same rate, women of color are arrested and imprisoned at a much higher rate. They also make up a disproportionate share of those women sentenced to prison versus community supervision (parole or supervised release) for drug offenses. Improving outcomes for women returning from prison and their families entails examining practices that affect women's entry into prison, their treatment while in prison, and their access to appropriate services and programs after they are released from prison. Despite the research and statistics that show the alarming increase in the incarceration rate for female offenders, the high correlation between this population and their use of illegal substances and the noted challenges they face upon reentry; limited research has been conducted around the criminal justice system's transition processes of community supervision or a halfway house stay and their impact on the successful reintegration of female offenders to their communities. For this study, a retrospective cohort study design was used to compare the group of formerly incarcerated women who transitioned through a halfway house operated by a Bureau of Prison (BOP) contractor prior to returning directly to their community to the group of female ex-offenders who transitioned directly to community supervision. The women in both groups were residents of Washington, DC prior to serving their sentence in a federal prison. Data extracted from the Washington, DC Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) case management database was quantitatively analyzed to examine the demographic, drug use, criminal and treatment characteristics of the study population. Interviews conducted prior to the quantitative analyses with local and national level experts explained the results of the quantitative analyses and provided insight into transition processes, substance abuse and treatment other individual and programmatic challenges to successful reentry female ex-offenders face as they transition from incarceration to community integration. Findings indicate that there are no statistically significant differences in rearrest or relapse rates for female offenders who transitioned through a halfway house prior to returning to their community and those who transitioned directly to their community without having a halfway house stay. Supervision length was found to be statistically significant in association with halfway house stay. A number of variables were found to have a weak to moderate statistically significant association with each of the outcome variables, relapse and rearrest. Multivariate analysis results indicated that among the set of variables included in final models, the most significant predictors of relapse were employment status and poly-drug use. Significant predictors for rearrest were simple assault arrest, violent offense, supervision length and number of arrests (in DC) prior to supervision.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McDonnell, Karen
Commitee: Edberg, Mark, Johnson, Calvin, Ruiz, Monica, Williams, Natasha H.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Health Behavior
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-B 73/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Public health, Criminology
Keywords: African-Americans, Ex-offenders, Recidivism, Reentry, Substance abuse, Women
Publication Number: 3503066
ISBN: 978-1-267-26525-8
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