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Can Social Capital Networks Assist Re-entry Felons to Overcome Barriers to Re-entry and Reduce Recidivism?

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Author(s): Earl Smith | Angela Hattery

Journal: Sociation Today
ISSN 1542-6300

Volume: 9;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: social capital | recidivism | parole | African-American

ABSTRACT
Based on interviews with 25 reentry felons, this article examines the impact that social capital plays in successful reentry; specifically with securing stable housing and employment. We found that access to social capital allowed those with the lowest probability for success—African American men with felony convictions—to secure both stable employment and housing and thus avoid engaging in illegitimate behavior that leads to recidivism. The findings suggest that even for those individuals reentering society with the most strikes against them (as noted by researchers such as Pager and Travis), access to the resource rich social capital networks provided by reentry programs can allow these individuals to overcome the barriers to reentry and find stable jobs and secure housing. Our findings suggest that more research be done on the impact of social capital embedded in reentry programs and that referrals be made to these types of programs and funding be provided for those that demonstrate the ability to significantly reduce recidivism. As Putman has noted, "Just as a screwdriver (physical capital) or a college education (human capital) can increase productivity (both individual and collective), so do social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups."

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