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Method to the Madness: Tracking and Interviewing Respondents in a Longitudinal Study of Prisoner Reentry

NCJ Number
Sociological Methods & Research Dated: 2019
Date Published
12 pages
This article describes the longitudinal follow-up procedures used in the LoneStar Projecta multiwave study of 802 males first interviewed in prison and re-interviewed twice in the year after releaseto build rapport, complete interviews, and minimize attrition; and it then assessed the effectiveness of these procedures regarding important outcomes, including interview yields, appointments, and incoming calls.

After nearly four decades of growth, the number of people held in U.S. prisons has begun to decline. In an era of decarceration, social scientists need to understand prisoner reentry experiences. Longitudinal studies are one strategy to accomplish this goal. Yet, the retention of a formerly incarcerated population across waves of interviews is challenging due to their transient lifestyles and limited support systems, which may be further complicated by gang involvement. Results of the LoneStar Project indicate that any outgoing contact with respondents via appointment reminders and other reciprocal modes of contact lead to greater project engagement and a greater likelihood of interview completion. The article concludes with relevant takeaways for researchers seeking to maximize survey participation with hard-to-reach populations. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019