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Policy Matters Ohio

Literature review: Incarceration hurts communities

September 28, 2018

Literature review: Incarceration hurts communities

September 28, 2018

By Donald Hutcherson, Ph.D., and Amy Hanauer

We send too many people to prison in Ohio. Many should not be there. Issue 1 will free up resources for addiction treatment, crime prevention and crime victim services, making Ohio safer.

In Ohio, many people are in prison either for violating probation in ways that are not themselves a crime, or for possessing or using drugs. Keeping them in prison is expensive and drains resources for other needs like education, health care or job training. It is also extremely costly to Ohio families, Ohio communities, and the Ohio economy.

Ohio kept nearly 50,000 people in prison in 2018[i] at a cost of more than $1.8 billion. At least 95 percent of them will eventually be released.[ii] Even then, they, their families, and their communities continue to suffer because being in prison makes it permanently harder to build a new life.

Literature review: Incarceration hurts communities

Serving time in prison makes it harder to find employment, gain education, stay married or in a committed relationship, or fulfill parental obligations. Those who’ve been in prison are more likely to be in poverty, to need public assistance, and to be in poor health. Their neighborhoods are less functional. Even their children are more likely to be unhealthy and to struggle in school.

Ohio Issue 1, on the November 2018 ballot, will redirect an estimated 10,000 Ohioans from prison to community treatment. By diverting people from prison in the first place and by shortening prison terms, Issue 1 will free up resources.

Our analysis shows that Issue 1 will redirect over $136 million a year to be used to treat addiction, prevent crime, and assist crime victims. Issue 1 reclassifies some drug possession charges as misdemeanors, prevents reincarceration when the only new charge is a probation violation, and allows more earned credits for good behavior.

Extensive research on incarceration documents that being in prison hurts people when they get out. It hurts people as workers, it hurts their families and it hurts their communities.

Overincarceration hurts workers, jobs and the economy. Spending time in prison:

Overincarceration hurts families. Spending time in prison:

  • Hurts physical and mental health, including for families.[viii]
  • Breaks up families.[ix]
  • Hurts children’s education and health.[x]
  • Reduces civic and institutional engagement.[xi]

Overincarceration hurts communities. Neighborhoods with more people sent to prison have:

  • Fewer neighborhood leaders and mentors, and less neighborhood pressure to succeed in traditional ways;[xii] and,
  • Lack of faith in and anger towards the law and public institutions among neighborhood residents.[xiii] This can contribute to crime and recidivism.[xiv]

Conclusion

Issue 1 will send some people into community treatment instead of prison, when their only offense is either a minor probation violation that is not in itself a crime, or possessing or using drugs. By treating these people in the community, Ohio will prevent some of the harm that comes from spending time in prison. These Ohioans will be healthier, more employable, and more able to avoid committing new crimes or needing public assistance. They will be better able to be good parents and family members. We estimate that nearly 10,000 Ohioans will be treated in the community instead of prison in the first full year of implementation under Issue 1. This will redirect money from prisons to crime prevention, addiction treatment and assisting crime victims. But even aside from this smarter use of resources, Issue 1 will reduce individual, family and community problems in Ohio.

Literature review: Incarceration hurts communities



[i] Bennie, Craig R. 2018. January 2018 Census. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

[ii] Hughes, Timothy A., Wilson, Doris James and Allen J. Beck. 2001. Trends in State Parole, 1990-2000. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

[iii] Kirk, David S. and Sara Wakefield. 2017. Collateral Consequences of Punishment: A Critical Review and a Path Forward. Annu. Rev. Criminol. 2018. 1:171–94.

[iv] Crutchfield, 1989 and 1995; Crutchfield and Pitchford, 1997; Sampson, Robert J. and John H. Laub. 1993. Crime in the Making: Pathways and Turning Points Through Life. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press; Sampson, Robert J. and John H. Laub. 2003. “Life-Course Desisters? Trajectories of Crime Among Delinquent Boys Followed to Age 70.” Criminology 41(3): 555-592; Western, Bruce and Katherine Beckett. 1999. “How Unregulated is the U.S. Labor Market: The Penal System as a Labor Market Institution.” American Journal of Sociology, 104: 1030-60; Western, Bruce and Becky Pettit. 2002. “Beyond Crime and Punishment: Prisons and Inequality.” Contexts 1: 37–43; Western, Bruce. 2006. Punishment and Inequality in America. New York, Russell Sage Foundation; Apel R. and Sweeten G. 2010. The impact of incarceration on employment during the transition to adulthood. Soc. Probl. 57:448–79; and, Western B, Pettit B. 2005. Black-white wage inequality, employment rates, and incarceration. Am. J. Sociol. 111:553–78.

[v] Harris A. 2016. A Pound of Flesh: Monetary Sanctions as a Permanent Punishment for Poor People. New York: Russell Sage Found.

[vi] Harding DJ, Morenoff JD, Herbert C. 2013. Home is hard to find: neighborhoods, institutions, and the residential trajectories of returning prisoners. Ann. Am. Acad. Political Soc. Sci. 647:214–36; and, Herbert CW, Morenoff JD, Harding DJ .2015. Homelessness and housing insecurity among former prisoners. Russell Sage Found. J. Soc. Sci. 1:44–79.

[vii] Schwartz-Soicher et al. 2011, Sugie 2012.

[viii] Johnson R, Raphael S. 2009. The effects of male incarceration dynamics on acquired immune defciency syndrome infection rates among African American women and men. J. Law Econ. 52:251–93; Lee H, Wildeman C, Wang EA, Matsuko N, Jackson JS. 2014. A heavy burden? The cardiovascular health consequences of having a family member incarcerated. Am. J. Public Health 104:421–27; Massoglia M, Pridemore WA. 2015. Incarceration and health. Annu. Rev. Sociol. 41:291–310.

[ix] Apel,R. 2016. The effects of jail and prison confinement on cohabitation and marriage. Ann. Am. Acad. Political Soc. Sci. 665:103–26; Massoglia M, Remster B, King RD. 2011. Stigma or separation? Understanding the incarceration-divorce relationship. Soc. Forces 90:133–55; Haskins AR. 2014. Unintended consequences: effects of paternal incarceration on school readiness and later special education placement. Sociol. Sci. 1:141–58; Murray J, Loeber R, Pardini D. 2012. Parental involvement in the criminal justice system and the development of youth theft, marijuana use, depression, and poor academic performance. Criminology 50:255–302; Wakefield S, Wildeman C. 2013. Children of the Prison Boom: Mass Incarceration and the Future of American Inequality. New York: Oxford Univ. Press; Cho RM. 2009. The impact of maternal incarceration on children’s educational achievement: results from Chicago public schools. J. Hum. Resource. 44:772–97; Turney K, Wildeman C. 2015. Detrimental for some? Heterogeneous effects of maternal incarceration on child wellbeing. Criminol. Public Policy 14:125–56; and, Wildeman C, Turney K. 2014. Positive, negative, or null? The effects of maternal incarceration on children’s behavioral problems. Demography 51:1041–68. But see Kruttschnitt C. 2010. The paradox of women’s imprisonment. Daedalus 139:32–42; and, Foster H, Hagan J. 2015. Punishment regimes and the multilevel effects of parental incarceration: intergenerational, intersectional, and interinstitutional models of social inequality and systemic exclusion. Annu. Rev. Sociol. 41:135–58.

[x] Geller A, Cooper CE, Garfinkel I, Schwartz-Soicher O, Mincy RB. 2012. Beyond absenteeism: father incarceration and child development. Demography 49:49–76; Haskins AR. 2014. Unintended consequences: effects of paternal incarceration on school readiness and later special education placement. Sociol. Sci.1:141–58; Wakefield S, Wildeman C. 2013. Children of the Prison Boom: Mass Incarceration and the Future of American Inequality. New York: Oxford Univ. Press; and, Kirk, David S. and Sara Wakefield. 2017. Collateral Consequences of Punishment: A Critical Review and a Path Forward. Annu. Rev. Criminol. 2018. 1:171–94.

[xi] Brayne S. 2014. Surveillance and system avoidance: criminal justice contact and institutional attachment. Am. Sociol. Rev. 79:367–91; Goffman A. 2014. On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City. Chicago, IL: Univ. Chicago Press; Haskins AR, Jacobsen WC. 2017. Schools as surveilling institutions? Paternal incarceration, system avoidance, and parental involvement in schooling. Am. Sociol. Rev. 82:657–84; Lerman A, Weaver V. 2014. Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control. Chicago, IL: Univ. Chicago Press; Manza J, Uggen C. 2006. Locked out: Felon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy. New York: Oxford Univ. Press; Sugie NF. 2015. Chilling effects: Diminished political participation among partners of formerly incarcerated men. Soc. Probl. 62:550–71; and, Weaver et al. 2014.

[xii] Clear TR. 2007. Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Worse. New York: Oxford Univ. Press; and, Drakulich KM, Crutchfield RD, Matsueda RL, Rose K.2012. Instability, informal control, and criminogenic situations: community effects of returning prisoners. Crim. Law Soc. Change 57:493–519.

[xiii] Kirk DS. 2016. Prisoner reentry and the reproduction of legal cynicism. Soc. Probl. 63:222–43.

[xiv] Kirk 2015; and, Kirk DS, Papachristos AV. 2011. Cultural mechanisms and the persistence of neighborhood violence. Am. J. Sociol. 116:1190–233

Additional Background references:

Berger LM, Cancian M, Cuesta L, Noyes JL. 2016. Families at the intersection of the criminal justice and child protective services systems. Ann. Am. Acad. Political Soc. Sci. 665:171–94.

Giordano PC. 2010. Legacies of Crime: A Follow-Up of Children of Highly Delinquent Girls and Boys. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Hawkins, Richard and Geoffrey P. Alpert. 1989. American Prison Systems: Punishment and Justice. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc.

Hughes, Timothy A., Wilson, Doris James and Allen J. Beck. 2001. Trends in State Parole, 1990-2000. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Jacobs, James B. 2001. Facts, values and prison policies: A commentary on Zimring and Tonry. In Garland (Ed.), Mass Imprisonment: Social Causes and Consequences. California: Sage Publications.

Johnson R, Raphael S. 2012. How much crime reduction does the marginal prisoner buy? J. Law Econ. 55:275–310.

Siegel J. 2011. Disrupted Childhoods: Children of Women in Prison. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

Tonry, Michael. 1999. Why Are U.S. Incarceration Rates So High? Crime & Delinquency, 45(4), 419-437.

Turney K. 2015. Liminal men: Incarceration and relationship dissolution. Soc. Probl. 62:499–528.

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