Complicated Freedoms

How complicated is release from prison? The glaring needs for our reentering citizens are employment, housing, social networks, forms of identification, etc.

Altered by various forms of mobility, the poor communities from which majority of the incarcerated come (Western 2006; Booth 2007; Clear 2007; Alexander 2010; Lopez 2010; Wacquant 2010) cannot effectively receive them once released (Clear 2007). Social disorganization theory scholars suggest that the inability for a community and/or its institutions to develop an informal regulatory presence (informal social control) exacerbates already established patterns of delinquency, crime, and other forms of neighborhood decay (Shaw and McKay 1942). Linked to pride and satisfaction (attitudinal attachment) with one’s community, are systemic ties (behavioral attachment) and community informal social control (Burchfield 2009).

The implications from Petersilia’s (2003b) study are that immediate needs for the reentering offender involve employment, education and skills development, alcohol/drug treatment, and social network development. These findings are consistent with Duffee & Duffee’s dated (1981) study on the reentry needs of halfway house participants. Petersilia (2003b) also found that these reentering offenders had physical and mental health issues that may need to be addressed. Of this group, less than fifteen percent were treated for alcohol, drug, or mental health conditions; however, 22-31 percent got involved with alcohol, drugs, educational, vocational, religious study group, or other religious programs. The good news for the Black Church is that the larger numbers (28.5 and 31.1 percent) respectively, were involved in religious study groups and other religious programs Petersilia (2003b:39) .

Excerpt from: “Offender Reclamation Revisited” J.H.Costen, JR


Alexander, Michelle. 2010. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindedness. New York: The New York Press.

Boothe, Demico. 2007. Why Are So Many Black Men In Prison?USA: Full Surface Publishing.

Burchfield, Keri B. 2009. “Attachment as a Source of Informal Social Control in Urban Neighborhoods.” Journal of Criminal Justice. 36:45-54.

Clear, Todd R. 2007. Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Worse. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press.

Lopez, Ian F. Haney. 2010. Post-Racial Racism: Racial Stratification and Mass Incarceration in the Age of Obama. California Law Review Retrieved September 11, 2012. (

Petersilia, Joan. 2003b. “From Cell to Society.” Pp.15-49 in Prisoner Reentry and Crime in America. Ed. Jeremy Travis and Christy Visher. CambridgeUniversity Press.

Shaw, Clifford R. and Henry D. McKay. 1942. Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Wacquant, Loïc. 2010. “Class, Race & Hyper-Incarceration in Revanchist America.” Daedalus 139,3:74-90.

Western, Bruce. 2006. Punishment and Inequality in America. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.