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Reentering the Community after Prison: Perspectives on the Role and Importance of Social Support

NCJ Number
American Journal of Criminal Justice Dated: January 2021
Jean Kjellstrand ; Miriam Clark; Celia Caffery; Joanna Smith; J. Mark Eddy
Date Published
January 2021

Since social support during reentry after incarceration is not well understood in terms of what types of support help individuals, who can best provide this support, how certain aspects of social support might be harmful, and pathways through which support helps individuals, the current qualitative study explored four common types of social support that have been identified in the research literature: emotional, instrumental, informational, and companionship.


In-depth interviews conducted with 26 adults recently released from prison found variation in the type of support received, the source of the support (primary or secondary groups), and whether the support was primarily positive, negative or harmful, or absent. Exploratory findings surfaced around seven potential pathways through which social support might help individuals who are reentering the community. Suggestions are made for the future work of practitioners and researchers during the reentry period. 57 references (publisher abstract modified)