Incarceration, Prisoner Reentry, and Communities

Since the mid-1970s the United States has experienced an enormous rise in incarceration and accompanying increases in returning prisoners and in post-release community correctional supervision. Poor urban communities are disproportionately impacted by these phenomena. This review focuses on two complementary questions regarding incarceration, prisoner reentry, and communities:(1) whether and how mass incarceration has affected the social and economic structure of American communities, and (2) how residential neighborhoods affect the social and economic reintegration of returning prisoners. These two questions can be seen as part of a dynamic process involving a pernicious “feedback” loop, in which mass incarceration undermines the structure and social organization of some communities, thus creating more criminogenic environments for returning prisoners and further diminishing their prospects for successful reentry and reintegration.