The Boston Reentry Study: Analysis and Preparation of Public Use Data


Bruce Western
Co-Director, Justice Lab, Bryce Professor of Sociology and Social Justice; Chair, Department of Sociology


In an era of historically high US incarceration rates, the transition from prison to the community of released prisoners has had far-reaching effects on the population and poverty dynamics of neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage. Despite a large body of research studying the effects of incarceration, relatively few studies have analyzed in detail the process of leaving prison and entering a community. In this context, this project extends prior research by offering innovative new analyses of data and the creation of publicly available data files from the Boston Reentry Study (BRS), a longitudinal study of 122 Massachusetts state prisoners newly-released to the Boston area that yielded an unparalleled response rate of 94 percent through 4 waves of follow-up in the year after prison release. The current project will thus provide a unique data set, including rich quantitative and qualitative information for the analysis of community return for a sample of newly-released prisoners under contemporary conditions of mass incarceration. The current project---including new analysis and data dissemination---will greatly expand the scope of the study's influence by informing policy debates on programs for transitional employment after prison, social supports for families that do much of the caring work immediately after incarceration, and for recidivism reduction, identifying key vulnerabilities in the year after prison release. The research will also play an important role in the academic development of students with interests in poverty and incarceration by involving them in the analysis of data and preparation of papers.