Author Information

Jenna Houston


The U.S. system of retributive justice drives punitive measures, rather than interventions that could reduce recidivism. If prisoners’ needs are not met while serving time within the penal system, their chances of re-offending are greater (Baillargeon, 2010). The purpose of this study was to gather information about correctional programming from male ex-prisoners who have been involved in community re-entry services at Span Inc. in Boston, MA. Furthermore, this study also examines whether or not the programming contributed to positive coping skills during their incarceration as well as adaptation upon reentering the community. Data were collected during ten interviews, using a semi-structured interview guide at a community reentry program named Span Inc., in Boston, MA. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for themes. Results indicate that, prisoners describe a wide variety of needs while incarcerated. Seven of the ten participants reported that their needs were not addressed in prison through programming and services. Participants also noted that programming helps in adjusting to being separated from the community while incarcerated, as well as helping them to reenter into the community. Strong themes of ‘prisonized’ behaviors were apparent in the experiences described by participants, as well as in the available services that were offered to them. It is hoped this research will aid program creators as well as inform the public of prisoners’ needs and how to better address them based on this first-hand data.

Note on the Author

Jenna Houston is a Departmental Honors student majoring in Social Work. This research project began in the Fall 2011 semester as part of a research project toward an honors contract requirement in Research Methods in Social Work. This research was made possible through the Adrian Tinsley Summer Research Grant in 2012, under the mentorship of Dr. Judith Willison. This project was presented in April 2013, at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in La-Crosse, Wisconsin.

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