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Prisoners Once Removed: The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families and Communities.

Prisoners Once Removed: The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families and Communities, edited by Jeremy Travis and Michelle Waul, Urban Institute Press, 2003, 396 pp.

In recent years, a great deal of attention has been given to the importance of inmate reentry, highlighted most noticeably in the book When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry by Joan Petersilia. Petersilia finished her book by noting the lack of attention being given to the impact of incarceration on children, families and communities. Editors Jeremy Travis and Michelle Waul address this gap in knowledge. They have compiled Prisoners Once Removed: The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on Children, Families and Communities, which contains articles that analyze the repercussions of current incarceration policies on children, families and communities.

The text is divided into three sections. In Section 1, "The Impact of Incarceration and Reentry on Individual Prisoners," the authors provide basic information on the challenges facing males and females who return to the community after a period of incarceration. The articles selected for this section all reflect current knowledge regarding the impact of the prison environment on the psychological well-being of the inmate, familial relationships and the reentry success of individual inmates. Each article concludes with suggestions for mitigating the negative impact of the prison environment through changes in release practices and social policy.

The second section examines the research addressing how incarceration impacts family structure and the social development of young children and adolescents. The research presented is relevant for academics as well as practitioners in social service agencies who ultimately must deal with the familial consequences of parental incarceration. The articles clarify the psychological, environmental and social consequences of parental incarceration for the children and families left behind in the community. The first article in this section details the generational consequences of mass imprisonment on the lives of poor, inner-city residents and minorities. The next two articles cover the developmental and behavioral problems experienced by the children of incarcerated parents. And the final article provides policy directions for improving inmates' family ties and relationships prior to and upon release from prison.

The third section focuses on the impact of high imprisonment rates on the community. The first article highlights the spatial relationship between high levels of incarceration within a community and receipt of government services. The second article in this section introduces a theoretical format for understanding the impact of incarceration on communities with high rates of returning ex-inmates. The article concludes that communities with high concentrations of returning felons are likely to have disrupted social capital networks at the familial and community levels. Consequently, communities with poor social capital have higher concentrations of working poor, street corner activity and increased crime. The section ends with a discussion of how communities, through collaborative reentry efforts, can work to successfully re-integrate ex-inmates back into the community.

Prisoners Once Removed is an excellent addition to the literature base on inmate reentry. The book moves beyond the individualistic focus of reentry on the ex-inmate to examine the impact of an individual's incarceration on others affected by it. Thus, the articles within this text place priority on analyzing the impact of incarceration on children, families and communities. It encourages communities to build partnerships with government agencies, nonprofit organizations and volunteers to unify the reentry process.

The book is also excellent for use in a graduate corrections course. The articles selected for inclusion use multiple styles of analysis to explore the social and structural impact of correctional policy. More important, readers are left with much to ponder about the practice of reentry as it is currently carried out.

Reviewed by Martha Henderson-Hurley, senior researcher for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Author:Henderson-Hurley, Martha
Publication:Corrections Today
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 2005
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