U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Examination of the Impact of Formerly Incarcerated Persons Helping Others

NCJ Number
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation Volume: 46 Issue: 1/2 Dated: 2007 Pages: 1-24
Thomas P. LeBel
Date Published
24 pages
This study builds upon theory and research concerning the helper principle, mutual-help groups, wounded healers, and retroflexive reformation to examine the possible effects and impact of this sort of helper orientation among former incarcerated persons in prisoner reintegration programs.
The study provides preliminary evidence of the benefits of the helper/wounded healer orientation and retroflexive reformation for formerly incarcerated persons’ psychological well-being. The findings indicate a basic incompatibility between a helper/wounded healer orientation and criminal attitudes and behavior. This orientation appears to transform individuals from being part of “the problem” into part of “the solution” as they give their time in the service of helping others who are less far along in the recovery and reintegration process. The findings suggest that the helper principle should be recognized for its potential in facilitating the recovery and reintegration of formerly incarcerated persons. Although previous research does not provide firm evidence in favor of the helper principle, the studies suggest a basic incompatibility between helping activities and criminal attitudes and lifestyles. In essence, the most successful interventions for offenders are those that target antisocial attitudes, values, and associations, and reinforce prosocial conduct. The main objectives of this study are to examine the helper/wounded healer orientation of 228 formerly incarcerated persons, and to assess whether endorsement of this orientation enhances psychological well-being and acts as a sort of buffer against criminality. A four-item helper/wounded healer orientation scale was developed. Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression analysis was used to determine how well a set of variables predicted the score on the helper/wounded healer orientation scale. Tables and references