Social ecology and recidivism: Implications for prisoner reentry

Daniel P. Mears, Xia Wang, Carter Hay, William D. Bales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Despite the marked increase in incarceration over the past 30 years and the fact that roughly two thirds of released offenders are rearrested within 3 years of release, we know little about how the social ecology of the areas to which offenders return may influence their recidivism or whether it disproportionately affects some groups more than others. Drawing on recent scholarship on prisoner reentry and macrolevel predictors of crime, this study examines a large sample of prisoners released to Florida communities to investigate how two dimensions of social ecology - resource deprivation and racial segregation - may independently, and in interaction with specific populations, influence recidivism. The findings suggest that ecology indeed is consequential for recidivism, and it differentially influences some groups more than others. We discuss these findings and their implications for theory, research, and policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-340
Number of pages40
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Prisoner reentry
  • Recidivism
  • Social ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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