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Inmate Social Ties and the Transition to Society: Does Visitation Reduce Recidivism?

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 45 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2008 Pages: 287-321
William D. Bales; Daniel P. Mears
Date Published
August 2008
35 pages
This study examined the question of whether visitation was associated with lower rates of recidivism.
The authors of this study found that only 42 percent of inmates received any visitation in the year prior to release, which reinforced the notion that incarceration severs individuals’ ties to society. Along with empirical studies on the topic (e.g., Adams and Fischer 1976; Holt and Miller 1972; and Ohlin 1951), any visitation and more frequent visitation were both associated with a lower likelihood of recidivism. Additional analyses showed similar findings, such as the notion that visitation over many different months exerted a greater effect than visits over fewer month. The findings also show that visitation of many types, including both family and friends, was associated with reduced and delayed onset of recidivism, with spousal visitation producing a strong reduction in recidivism. The findings also showed a stronger effect among men, non-Whites, and individuals with longer histories of incarceration. Visitation that occurred closer to the time of release from prison was strongly associated with reduced recidivism than visitation that occurred further back in time. Data were examined from 7,000 inmates released by the Florida Department of Corrections to test the hypotheses about the influence of visitation on 2-year recidivism outcomes. Tables, figures, and references


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