Release from jail marks a key transition in the life of the inmate. On the one hand, the days, months, and years ahead represent the promise of a fresh start, the possibility of the gold-standard outcome of incarceration: rehabilitation. On the other hand, it also marks the threat of tremendous psychological, relational, and economic challenge as one seeks to re-integrate into the community, not to mention the statistical likelihood of recidivism. Practitioners and scholars alike have long-sought to explain who thrives and who recidivates after release from jail, noting that a predictive window on the matter could give way to possible interventions aimed at improving individual, familial, and community well-being. The proposed project aims to examine community connectedness as one such explanatory variable. Does the extent to which incarcerated offenders, on the brink of release from jail, feel connected to two distinct communities-the community at large and the criminal community-predict both desirable and undesirable outcomes in the years following release? In addition, how do feelings of connectedness to each community change over time? Lastly, can community connectedness be effectively targeted by an existing restorative justice based victim impact intervention? These questions are at the center of the proposed analyses. This project will draw upon two existing longitudinal studies of jail inmates (n = 508, and n = 222). Inmates' connectedness to the community at large and the criminal community is assessed shortly after their arrival in jail, prior to release, and up to four years post-release. First, pre-release community connectedness will be used to predict functioning (e.g., substance dependence, employment) up to four years after release. Next, normative and individual level changes in feelings of connectedness to the community at large and the criminal community will be analyzed to better understand the malleability of community connectedness. Individual factors such as participation in group-based interventions (e.g., 12-step programs) during incarceration and returning to neighborhoods with high contextual risk (e.g., violence) are expected to contribute to individual changes in community connectedness. Lastly, changes in feelings of connectedness to the community at large and the criminal community will be examined in response to an existing restorative justice based Impact of Crime (IOC) intervention in a local jail. Specifically, this project will test the hypothesis that the IOC intervention results in posiive post-release adjustment (e.g., community functioning) due to changes in feelings of connectedness to the community at large and the criminal community. Factors such as substance dependence and psychopathy will be explored as moderators of this relationship. Ultimately, these findings will fill a substantial gap in the scientific literature on community connectedness among offenders and can inform correctional treatment and reentry services aimed at decreasing antisocial behavior and increasing adaptive functioning in the community.

Public Health Relevance

This project will investigate how offenders' community connectedness (community at large and the criminal community), an important predictor of post-release adjustment, can be targeted through interventions. By learning more about factors that contribute to connectedness to the community at large and factors that attenuate connectedness to the criminal community, this project aims to enhance community integration of offenders and reduce the burden of crime on society. Results will have direct implications for intervention with the 12 million individuals who cycle through our criminal justice system each year.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F16-L (20))
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Wiley, Tisha R A
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George Mason University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Moore, Kelly E; Milam, Katherine C; Folk, Johanna B et al. (2018) Self-stigma among Criminal Offenders: Risk and Protective Factors. Stigma Health 3:241-252
Moore, Kelly E; Folk, Johanna B; Boren, Emily A et al. (2018) Pilot study of a brief dialectical behavior therapy skills group for jail inmates. Psychol Serv 15:98-108
Boren, Emily A; Folk, Johanna B; Loya, Jennifer M et al. (2018) The Suicidal Inmate: A Comparison of Inmates Who Attempt Versus Complete Suicide. Suicide Life Threat Behav 48:570-579
Folk, Johanna B; Loya, Jennifer M; Alexoudis, Emily A et al. (2018) Differences between inmates who attempt suicide and who die by suicide: Staff-identified psychological and treatment-related risk factors. Psychol Serv 15:349-356
Folk, Johanna B; Disabato, David J; Daylor, Jordan M et al. (2016) Effectiveness of a self-administered intervention for criminal thinking: Taking a Chance on Change. Psychol Serv 13:272-82
Tangney, June P; Folk, Johanna B; Graham, David M et al. (2016) Changes in Inmates' Substance Use and Dependence From Pre-Incarceration to One Year Post-Release. J Crim Justice 46:228-238
Disabato, David J; Folk, Johanna B; Wilson, John et al. (2016) Psychometric validation of a simplified form of the PICTS for low-reading level populations. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 38:456-464
Folk, Johanna B; Mashek, Debra; Tangney, June et al. (2016) Connectedness to the criminal community and the community at large predicts 1-year post-release outcomes among felony offenders. Eur J Soc Psychol 46:341-355
Folk, Johanna B; Blasko, Brandy L; Warden, Rebecca et al. (2016) Feasibility and Acceptability of an Impact of Crime Group Intervention with Jail Inmates. Vict Offender 11:436-454
Folk, Johanna B; Disabato, David J; Goodman, Fallon R et al. (2016) Wise Additions Bridge the Gap between Social Psychology and Clinical Practice: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy as an Exemplar. J Psychother Integr 2016:

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