What Happens to Prisoners Once Released?

Event Recap

February 26, 2014
By Patrick Kibbe, PCJ Academic Year Fellow and Joint Degree Candidate

On Wednesday, February 26th the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management (PCJ) and the Criminal Justice Professional Interest Caucus (Criminal Justice PIC) student group hosted the first in a series of Criminal Justice Lunchtime Talks that will be happening throughout the semester.

The first session took up the question:  What happens to prisoners once they are released? Professor Bruce Western, PCJ Faculty Chair, Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice Policy, and Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at HKS, led the session focusing on research from the 'The Boston Reentry Study' (BRS). 

The Boston Reentry Study is a longitudinal survey of 122 Massachusetts state prisoners newly-released to the Boston area. The study offers a unique window into the lives of formerly incarcerated men and women in Massachusetts, and aims to provide a detailed picture of the process of social integration after prison.

Professor Western started the session by showing a video of interviews conducted with participants in the study. Their stories and motivations for participating in the study were diverse. Some described challenges readjusting to life outside of prison, after the sometimes-violent reality of life in prison. Others described challenges finding work or adjusting back to life with their families. These interviews complimented the quantitative research that is another component of the BRS, which will be released in a series of forthcoming papers.

After the initial presentation students and PCJ staff had the opportunity to ask questions of Professor Western and the BRS research team.

For more information on the Boston Reentry Study, see the story by Harvard Magazine, The Prison Problem.

About this Series

The Criminal Justice Lunchtime Talk series is co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice PIC, the Kennedy School Student Government (KSSG), and the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management at HKS.

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Professor Bruce Western

Professor Bruce Western (PCJ) discussing The Boston Reentry Project at a recent PCJ Criminal Justice Lunchtime Talk

Photo:  Brian Welch, PCJ