Locked Out and Locked Up: Assessing the Relationship Between Housing Instability and Recidivism for People with Criminal Drug Records Using a General Strain Theory Framework
Date of Award
Shannon Sliva, Ph.D.
Collateral consequences, Collateral sanctions, Drug policy, Fair chance policy, Housing policy, Smart decarceration
More than 32.5 million Americans have been arrested for drug offenses since 1996 contributing to the fact that currently nearly as many Americans have a criminal record as a college degree. After an arrest for a drug offense, often regardless of whether one is convicted, people are subject to civil penalties known as collateral sanctions. These sanctions include restrictions on access to subsidized housing, financial benefits, student loans, employment, and important aspects of civic life such as voting or holding office.
Due to recent recidivism rates - over 75% for people exiting prison with a drug record - researchers and policymakers have expressed concern about a connection between collateral sanctions and recidivism for people with criminal drug records (PCDR). There is enough concern regarding collateral sanctions in general that every state has passed some form of legislation to reduce their impact since 2012.
Research suggests that access to housing is frequently cited as one of the biggest concerns of people exiting prison and that it plays a protective role against problematic drug use, criminal behavior, and recidivism in general. Yet little is known about the specific experiences of PCDR or if these same relationships apply for this population. Given PCDR face unique restrictions on access to public housing along with legal discrimination in market-based housing, knowing more about how housing impacts outcomes like recidivism for this population is crucial.
Using data from the Fragile Families Study, this study incorporates both regression models and complex path models, using variables based on a General Strain Theory framework, to provide a robust test of the relationship between housing instability and recidivism for PCDR.
Results suggest that housing instability is associated with recidivism for PCDR. There is some evidence that supports the use of General Strain Theory as a guiding framework for better understanding the experiences of PCDR, as informal social control - in the form of employment, education, volunteerism, and supportive personal relationships - is associated with a decrease in recidivism. These results suggest that current policy efforts aimed at reducing barriers to housing and employment for PCDR should be beneficial to this population. Suggestions for future research concerning PCDR at both the individual and policy levels are discussed.
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Plassmeyer, Mark Paul, "Locked Out and Locked Up: Assessing the Relationship Between Housing Instability and Recidivism for People with Criminal Drug Records Using a General Strain Theory Framework" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1610.
Received from ProQuest
Mark Paul Plassmeyer
Social work, Criminology, Sociology