Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) Complexities of Reentry in a Comparative Context: Exploring Service Utilization Among Non-Urban and Urban Inmates (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

191P (see Poster Gallery) Complexities of Reentry in a Comparative Context: Exploring Service Utilization Among Non-Urban and Urban Inmates

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Mamta Ojha, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH
Megan Petra, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH
Background: The prison population has increased exponentially in the last three and half decades. It is estimated that more than 600,000 individuals are released from prison each year (Dumont, et al., 2012). Upon returning to their communities, ex-offenders oftentimes face challenges like unemployment, homelessness, physical and behavioral health needs, which can hinder their successful transition from prison to community (Garland, et al., 2010). For positive post-release reintegration into communities, reentry initiatives are recommended; research suggests that post-release service utilization reduces the probability of reoffending and subsequent re-incarceration.

Purpose: While studies have examined urban re-entry needs, very few studies have examined reentry in non-urban context. Re-entry challenges and service availability and utilization may be different in non-urban and urban areas Furthermore, little is known about patterns of service use prior to incarceration, during incarceration, and intended service use after release, and whether these patterns differ for those who will return to non-urban vs. urban areas. This presentation focuses on re-entry needs, challenges, and service utilization in terms of employment, and behavioral and physical health of currently incarcerated individuals who were scheduled to be released to either urban or non-urban locales.

Methods: Surveys were administered via structured interviews with individuals housed in 17 prisons and two community-based correctional facilities (CBCFs), from April 2012 through May 2014. Surveys were completed by 173 participants. As the needs and experiences of inmates in prison and CBCF may be diverse, for the purpose of this research only respondents from prison system were included (N = 130). Nonparametric McNamar’s test for paired data and chi square tests were done to examine significant differences between urban and non-urban participants.

Results: Results suggest that there are statistically significant (p<.05) differences in race/ethnicity, employment, primary source of income, type of crime, and length of sentencing between urban and non-urban respondents. Utilization of employment readiness services decreased among non-urban respondents while in prison but increased for urban respondents; however, both samples indicated an increased intent to utilize all six types of employment services post-release. Only non-urban respondents increased their utilization of behavioral and mental health services while in prison. These respondents used significantly more mental health (p<.05), anger management (p<.05) and stress management services (p<.01) while incarcerated than urban respondents. Non-urban (p<.01) and urban participants (p<.001) both reported that they intended to increase their use of stress managements (p<.05) services post-release. There were some variations in physical health indicators also among urban and non-urban respondents.

Conclusions and Implications: Results indicate that release locale matters, as there are some differences between the two groups in terms of the services utilized pre-incarceration and while in prison and intended utilization post release. These findings have implications for reentry initiative policies and practices as significant differences were also found between services utilized prior to incarceration and services inmates would like to utilize after release.