Methods: This paper utilizes the Retuning Home dataset collected by the Urban Institute. The sample contains male participants (n=740) from three states, Illinois, Ohio, and Texas. Surveys were completed 30 days prior to release, 30 days after release, and six-nine months after release. Most of the sample identified as a racial or ethnic minority (85.1%), the average age at first interview was 36.2 years old, and the average length of incarceration was 3.1 years. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationships between participants’ depression symptoms (CES-D), PTSD symptoms (PSS-I), family conflict, basic needs index, and two recidivism measures (a self-report measure and an administrative record). Maximum Likelihood Robust estimation was used. Partial strong invariance was observed across the three waves of data (RMSEA=.027, CFI=.98, SRMR=.041, CFI difference test <.001).
Results: The perceived difficulty of obtaining basic needs prior to release significantly predicted higher depression and PTSD symptoms at one-month post-release (β=.18, p<.001; β=.22, p< .001). Additionally, perceived difficulty of obtaining basic needs was associated with an increase in family conflict at six-nine months (β=.13, p<.01). Higher levels of family conflict pre-release predicted greater difficulty of meeting basic needs at one-month post-release (β=.15, p<.01). This pattern continued, as higher levels of family conflict at one-month were associated with greater difficulty meeting basic needs six-nine months after release (β=.13, p<.05). Higher levels of family conflict pre-release predicted greater PTSD symptoms at the one-month follow-up (β=.14, p<.05). Additionally, higher levels of depression and PTSD symptoms at six-nine months were associated with higher odds of recidivating within one year of release (OR=1.04, p<.001; OR=1.12, p<.001).
Conclusion: Findings suggest a holistic view is needed when examining how to best support individuals as they reenter society. The anticipated difficulty of being able to meet basic needs resulted in participants having greater mental health symptoms. Higher family conflict was found to impact individual’s ability to meet their needs and, in some cases, resulted in worse mental health outcomes. Additionally, higher levels of depression and PTSD symptoms increased the odds of recidivating. Policies and programs need to account for the various needs of these individuals and focus on multiple domains in order to offer the best chance for success upon release.