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The Effect of Prison Visitation on Reentry Success: A Meta-Analysis

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 47 Dated: 2016 Pages: 74-83
Date Published
10 pages

The authors’ the purpose for presenting this meta-analysis was to systematically calculate the mean effect size of prison visitation on recidivism.


High rates of recidivism among released prisoners have prompted policymakers and practitioners to explore novel solutions. Although visitation has been a facet of routine prison operations for decades, studies of this policy have produced mixed results. Therefore, this article systematically evaluates the effect of prison visits on recidivism. Relying on meta-analysis techniques put forth by the Campbell Collaboration, 16 studies were assessed to determine the overall mean effect of visitation on recidivism and important moderator effects on this relationship. Experiencing visitation resulted in a 26 percent decrease in recidivism. This effect was largest for male samples (53 percent reduction), those who had experienced conjugal and furlough visits (36 percent decline), and when using multiple measures of recidivism (56 percent decrease). Finally, the effect of visitation was strongest (53 percent decrease) for limited follow-up periods (≤ 1 year). Overall, results indicate that prison visitation generates modest reductions in post-release offending, which is moderated by gender, visitation type, time at risk, and recidivism measures. In light of these findings, policy implications are put forth to make visitation more accessible to all inmates. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2016