• unlimited access with print and download
    $ 37 00
  • read full document, no print or download, expires after 72 hours
    $ 4 99
More info
Unlimited access including download and printing, plus availability for reading and annotating in your in your Udini library.
  • Access to this article in your Udini library for 72 hours from purchase.
  • The article will not be available for download or print.
  • Upgrade to the full version of this document at a reduced price.
  • Your trial access payment is credited when purchasing the full version.
Buy
Continue searching

The effects of prisonization on the employability of former prisoners: First-hand voices

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Jessie Harper
Abstract:
Each year, hundreds of thousands of prisoners will return to their home states from federal and state incarceration (Travis, 2005). Research suggests that engaging individuals in work after they are released from prison is an important component of successful reentry (Solomon, Johnson, Travis, & McBride, 2004; Travis, 2005). Thirty-five interviews were conducted with stakeholders (former prisoners, Employment Specialists, hiring companies) involved in former prisoners' resocialization into the workforce. It explored how such stakeholders conceptualized the challenges of reentering the workforce after a period of prisonization and how these challenges differ by gender. It also explored the ways that former prisoners and other stakeholders understand success in employment after release from prison. This study demonstrates that even though most former prisoners want to work, that prisonization impacts employability by affecting the ability of former prisoners to function well emotionally and interpersonally in the employment setting by disrupting or impeding the development of the interactional processes, thinking, and behaviors associated with successful employment experiences. These include the ability to work and communicate well with others, follow directions, and demonstrate self-efficacy and achievement (Herr & Cramer, 1996; Neff, 1986). Major findings of this study are that these interactional processes may be disrupted as a result of prisonization's psychological impact. Prisonization may also cause prisoners to internalize and display the behaviors that are common in prison, but that are unacceptable or counter-productive in the employment setting. This study also shows that although there are similarities in the ways that prisonization impacts the employability of men and women, several differences in workforce conduct have been reported. Men may have more difficulty adjusting to the employment setting and may exhibit more anger and aggression (Irwin, 1970; Liebling & Maruna, 2008). Successful prisoner reentry has important implications for former prisoners, the community, and public safety. However, current reentry employment preparation is inadequate in helping former prisoners deal with the effects of prisonization. Discovering what supports help people with employment may significantly inform programs that support those who are in the criminal justice system to reenter the workforce (Travis, 2005; Vacca, 2004).

TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Chapter 1: Introduction 1 Background 1 The Role of Employment in Reentry 3 Inadequate Available Reentry Programming 4 Rationale for Study 5 Research Questions 6 Significance of Study 6 Organization of Dissertation 7 Chapter 2: Literature Review 9 Institutionalization (Prisonization) 9 Post Prison Effects 12 Impact on Reentering the Workforce 14 The Importance of Employment for Former Prisoners 17 Characteristics of Current Workforce Reentry Programming 18 Change in Ideology: Its Impact on Prison, Employment, and Reentry Programming 21 The Need for Gender Specific Perspectives 28 Promising Practices 32 Corrections-Based Reentry Workforce Preparation 32 Post-Release Community Services 33 Chapter 3: Research Design and Methods 36 Methodological Approach 36 Participant Selection 37 Data Collection Methods Interviews 39 Participant Profiles 42 Observations and Field Notes 43 Data Analysis 44 Validity Triangulation 45 Respondent Validation and Negative Cases 46 Limitations 46 Chapter 4: Analysis and Findings 48 Ways That Former Prisoners and Other Stakeholders Understand Employment Success 51 Conceptualization of Prisonization's Impact on Employment 56 Psychological Impact of Incarceration on Employability 59 Hypervigilance, Anger, Mistrust, and the "Prison Mask" 60 Diminished Sense of Self-Worth 69 VI

Post-traumatic Stress Reactions to the "Nightmare" of Prison Life 72 Behaviors Internalized in Prison, But Unacceptable in the Employment Setting 75 Self-Motivation and Routine:Casualties of Prisonization 75 Social Signals, Verbal, and Non-Verbal Communication 79 Divergent Attitudes Toward Employment Related Integrity and Honesty 83 Exploitive Norms of the Prison Culture 85 Gender Differences in the Impact of Prisonization on Employability 86 Conduct in the Workplace and the Expression of Emotion 87 Healthy Male/Female Relationships in the Workplace 91 Variation in Cultural Norms in Men's and Women's Prisons 93 Conclusion 94 Chapter 5:Implications for Practice and Policy and Areas for Future Research 96 Supports for Positive Employment Experiences 97 Rethink Residential Transitional Facilities 97 Recognize Gender Differences When Planning Reentry Programming 99 Provide Ongoing Support for Former Prisoners And Hiring Managers 100 Use a Strengths Based Approach 102 Other Barriers 103 Areas for Future Research 103 Conclusion 104 Appendix 106 Bibliography 120 vn

LIST OF FIGURES Page Figure 1. Conceptual Framework of Influences on and 20 Outcomes of Individuals Released from Prison Vl l l

Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION Background In the fall of 2009,1 conducted a pilot study about how former prisoners, reentry educators, and administrators understand and confront the unique employment challenges of former prisoners. Several comments from participants highlighted the impact of the prison experience on the ability of former prisoners to reenter the workforce. For example, one participant, an ex-prisoner who had been incarcerated for 10 years from the age of 18 remarked: When you're locked up you're always on guard. Everybody is the enemy. When I was released I had a hard time because I continued to view people the same way. The first job after I was released was as a telemarketer. I lasted two hours. I could not do it. A twice wounded Viet Nam Vet who currently works as an employment specialist for former prisoners similarly commented, So when I got out of the service, six months prior we went through a program called Project Transition. I was in combat. So, I had to be re-framed, re- programmed to meet the demands of the civilian job market. So, there wasn't that shock the day I got out. I already had a job and I was prepared to go to work. The men and women who are returning from prison aren't that prepared. So, they leave a structured environment where they are told what to do, who to do it with and how long with the expectation that you are now being empowered to do this for themselves. These experiences highlight the effects of prisonization. The term "prisonization" is used to describe the negative socio-psychological effects of imprisonment (Cressey, 1961; Haney, 2002; Irwin, 1970; Liebling & Maruna, 2008; Sykes, 1958). In order to 1

survive the prison experience, prisoners become institutionalized or "prisonized" by internalizing the prison culture, patterns of behavior, and interacting with others (Haney, 2002). When offenders enter prison, they are subjected to a stringent institutional routine, are deprived of liberty and privacy, and live in conditions which are often violent, dangerous, and stressful. Correctional institutions require inmates to surrender autonomy, initiative, and the freedom to make their own decisions. Prisoners are subjected to strict surveillance and are punished severely for infractions. In time, inmates may become dependent on the control that the institution provides. Some may lose the ability, for a time to make decisions and exercise good judgment on their own when their freedom is returned (Haney, 2002; Irwin, 1970). Other effects of incarceration may include hypervigilence, interpersonal mistrust and suspicion, social withdraw and isolation, diminished sense of self-worth and personal value, and post-traumatic stress reactions to the pains of the prison experience. In some cases, offenders incorporate the exploitive norms of prison culture by demonstrating toughness, domination, and the willingness to exploit others (McCorkle, 1992). Behaviors that are necessary to survive the environment in prison become more and more natural and internalized. The behaviors and patterns of thinking resulting from prisonization may be counter-productive outside prison walls (Haney, 2002). When compared with the behaviors that correlate with a successful work experience including self-efficacy, the ability to function well interpersonally and emotionally, and the ability to demonstrate achievement motivation, it seems clear that the pains of the prison experience may 2

impede the former prisoner's successful re-integration into the employment setting (Haney, 2002; Herr & Cramer, 1996; Neff, 1986). The Role of Employment in Reentry Reentry is defined as the process, experienced by all prisoners who are released, of returning to society after a period of incarceration (Travis, 2005; Travis, Solomon, & Waul, 2001). Employment is an important component of successful reentry (Solomon, et al., 2004; Travis, 2005). Several studies show that job instability among former prisoners leads to higher re-arrest rates and that increasing wages earned legitimately, decreases money earned through illegal means (Solomon et al., 2004; Travis, 2005). Employment serves to support rehabilitation among former prisoners by offering them the opportunity to work and contribute as productive members of society (Batiuk, Lahm, Mckeever, Wilcox, & Wilcox, 2005; Solomon, Johnson, Travis, & McBride, 2004). It helps them to use existing skills and learn new skills, increase earning potential, and to gain valuable experience. Former prisoners also benefit from the new routines, daily structure, and prosocial contact associated with employment (Maruna, 2001; Solomon et al., 2004). Employment enables them to support themselves and their families financially. Additionally, communities benefit economically when former prisoners return to the workforce and become both taxpayers and consumers (Solomon et al., 2004; Travis, 2005). 3

Inadequate Available Reentry Programming Current reentry workforce programming (pre and post-release) has historically focused on educational, vocational, cognitive restructuring and substance abuse programs and has not specifically addressed the impact of prisonization on former prisoners' abilities to reenter the workforce ( Maruna, 2001;Travis, 2005). In fact, most cognitive- behavioral programs do not focus on helping prisoners to adjust to a life outside of prison, but instead work to change the "distorted cognition - self justificatory thinking, misinterpretation of social cues, displacement of blame, deficient moral reasoning, schemas of dominance and entitlement" (Lipsey, Landenberger, & Wilson, 2007) Although important, this approach is insufficient because it seeks only to address the pathologies and patterns of thinking that may have contributed to the criminal offense. Such therapy does not address the challenges associated with adapting to life outside of prison or the negative socio-psychological impact that internalizing prison culture may have on former prisoners' ability to reenter the workforce. Never before has the need been greater for workforce conditioning to resocialize former prisoners to reenter the workforce. In the United States, more than 650,000 prisoners (1600 per day) will return to their home states from federal and state incarceration after a period of prisonization, including several women. Today, female prisoners comprise 8.6% of the total prison population in the United States and this number continues to increase rapidly (Adler, 1975; Simon, 1975; Sobel, 1982; Zust, 2009). Research suggests that female offenders differ from their male counterparts in a number of ways. For example, many female offenders have been victimized by partners and family members. In many cases, there is also an interrelationship between offending 4

and victimization (Bloom, Owen, & Covington, 2005). Unlike men whose rates of recidivism have been associated with drug addiction, recent research has shown that recidivism for women is associated with depression (Zust, 2009). Most have children and, unfortunately, several never see their children while they are in prison (Geraci, 2002; Sobel, 1982; Zust, 2009). Unfortunately, the criminal justice system has not met the unique needs of women. Instead, male standards for physical and emotional needs have been imposed on women (Bloom et al., 2005; Covington, 2006). Rationale for Study There are several compelling reasons for conducting a study about the impact of prisonization on the employability of former prisoners. First, the effects of prisonization on former prisoners' personalities and relationships with family and children have been well-documented (Haney, 2002; Liebling & Maruna, 2008). However, very little has been written about the impact of prisonization on former prisoners' ability to reenter the workforce. Second, studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between employment and lower rates of recidivism. Finding and keeping employment assists former prisoners in building a life outside of prison walls ( Batiuk et al. 2005; Duguid, 1982). Third, current reentry programming is inadequate, especially for women, and there is little or no evidence that reentry programming has responded appropriately to the impact of prisonization on former prisoners' employability. And fourth, mandatory sentences and punitive policies have caused offenders to be subjected to the socio-psychological effects of prison for a longer period of time. The longer a person is incarcerated, the more pronounced the effect (Petersilia, 2003; Travis 2004). 5

Research Questions Research suggests that engaging individuals in work after they are released from prison is an important component of a successful reentry. However, former prisoners face many challenges as they attempt to reenter the workforce (Solomon et al 2004; Travis, 2005). These challenges may include the counter-productive patterns of thinking and acting that most prisoners adopt in order to survive the prison experience (Haney, 2002). Thus, the following questions guided this dissertation study. 1. How do stakeholders (former prisoners, employment specialists, hiring companies) involved in former prisoners' resocialization into the workforce conceptualize the challenges of reentering the workforce after a period of prisonization? 2. How do these challenges differ by gender? 3. In what ways do former prisoners and other stakeholders understand success in employment after release from prison? Significance of Study Successful prisoner reentry has important implications for former prisoners, the community, and public safety. The socio-psychological impact of prisonization may impede post prison adjustment, including the all important task of finding and retaining employment. However, current reentry employment preparation is inadequate in helping former prisoners deal with the effects of prisonization. Discovering what supports help people with employment may significantly inform programs that support those who are in the criminal justice system to reenter the workforce (Travis, 2005; Vacca, 2004). Also, all too often, decisions about treatment and assistance for former prisoners are made 6

without consulting those who are involved in the process. These include former prisoners themselves, employment specialists who work with former prisoners, and those who hire them. Therefore, a phenomenological study that explores how those most closely involved in assisting former prisoners to reenter the workforce conceptualize the challenges they face, and visualize employment success after a period of prisonization, gives voice to their practical wisdom and experiences (Starks & Trinidad, 2007). Since research shows that there are distinct differences in male and female offenders, this study also offers insight into the gender differences in the ways that these challenges and successes are conceptualized and experienced (Bloom, Owen, & Covington, 2005; Case & Fasenfest, 2004). Such a study highlights the need for more research in the area. It should enhance policy development and improve practice as we work to assist the large numbers of former prisoners who are returning to American communities successfully rejoin society. In so doing, there is an opportunity to manage reentry such that very few new crimes are committed. Organization of the Dissertation This dissertation is organized into five chapters, beginning with the previous chapter on the background and overview of the study. The second chapter offers a selected review of the literature related to the importance of employment to the reentry process, the barriers faced by former prisoners, the characteristics of current employment reentry programs, and the effects of prisonization on prisoners and on former prisoners as they attempt to rejoin society. Some sections of the literature review explore the history and policies shaping current practices in prisoner reentry programming Other sections 7

examine selected published literature related to the need for gender specific interventions and explore promising practices in reentry programming. In the third chapter, I describe the study's research design and methodology, including the rationale for the use of a qualitative approach and the process of site and sample selection. In addition, I explain the procedures I use for interviewing, data coding, and data analysis. In the last section of the chapter, I articulate the project limitations. The demographics of the overall sample and individual participant profiles are also described in chapter three. Each participant is introduced in a profile that shares information about their backgrounds and employment experiences. Chapter 4 is devoted to the findings and analysis of this dissertation, where effects of prisonization are identified and the similarities and differences in the experiences between male and female former prisoners are identified. Chapter 5 articulates the conclusions of this study, including the contributions of this study to the literature and the implications of this research for reentry programming. I also make suggestions for future research. 8

Chapter 2 LITERATURE REVIEW This literature review is divided into six sections. Each section highlights an area that defines the background, context, and prior research relevant to this study. Collectively, these sections ground the dissertation in the empirical literature relevant to the effects of prisonization and the benefits of employment for former prisoners. The first section includes findings about the socio-psychological effects of prisonization on former prisoners.The second section of the literature review outlines what the literature says about the importance of employment to the post-prison success of former prisoners. The third section is devoted to the characteristics of current workforce reentry programming while the fourth section examines the evolution of the policies that have shaped available reentry workforce programming. Section five of this literature review outlines the need for gender specific perspectives. Section six highlights promising practices in workforce reentry programming. Institutionalization (Prisonization) Goffman (1961) defines "total institution" as an organization is which all aspects of the lives of the organization's subordinates are dependent upon those in authority. Life in total institutions is characterized by a clear hierarchy and attempts at total control. These features serve to ensure that both subordinates and individuals in authority are aware of their obligations, rights, and behaviors. Examples include prisons, boarding schools, concentration camps, cults, mental institutions, and orphanages (Goffman, 1961). When prisoners enter prison they are subjected to a stringent institutional routine, 9

are deprived of liberty and privacy, and live in conditions which are often violent, dangerous, and stressful (Bonta & Gendreau, 1990; Haney, 2002; Liebling & Maruna, 2008). Schein (1990) asserts that internalizing culture is a behavioral, cognitive and emotional process and that culture is learned by a group over time as "it solves its problems of survival in an external environment and its problems of internal integration" (Schein, 1990, p. 111). In order to survive the prison experience, offenders become institutionalized or "prisonized" by internalizing culture and patterns of behavior, thinking, and interacting with others in ways that may be counter-productive outside prison walls (Cressey, 1961; Haney, 2002; Irwin, 1970; Sykes, 1958). Correctional institutions require inmates to surrender autonomy, initiative, and the freedom to make their own decisions. Offenders are subjected to strict surveillance and are punished severely for infractions. Other effects of incarceration may include hypervigilence, interpersonal mistrust and suspicion, social withdraw and isolation, incorporation of exploitive norms of prison culture, diminished sense of self-worth and personal value, and post-traumatic stress reactions to the pains of the prison experience. As expected, most offenders initially find it difficult to adjust to such conditions. However, a transformation gradually takes place (Haney, 2002; Maruna, 2001; Sykes, 1958). Various mechanisms that are necessary to survive the environment become more and more natural and internalized (Haney, 1997; Haney, 2002; Liebling & Maruna, 2008). This process is subtle and happens gradually and sub-consciously. Thus, longer sentences can provide greater opportunity for prisonization to take root (Haney, 2002). Even though the effects of prisonization are not considered pathological, but adaptive and reversible, few offenders remain unchanged by the prison experience 10

(Clemmer, 1940; Haney, 2002; Liebling & Maruna, 2008). Cressey (1961) refers to this phenomenon as a "disculturalization" that results in total institutions when the inmate experiences a change in self-concept that results from a series of "degradations, humiliations, and profanations of self." He argues that disculturalization could affect an individual's ability to "manage certain features of life on the outside" (p. 23). In time, prisoners may come to rely on institutional decision makers to make choices for them. They may also depend on the prison routine to organize their daily lives. Inmates also live in conditions which are often violent, dangerous, and stressful. McCorkle's study at a maximum security prison in Tennessee revealed that this environment shaped inmates' behavior. Older inmates employed avoidance behavior by isolating themselves socially and spending more time in their cells while younger inmates tended to use more aggressive strategies to avoid victimization. Most inmates reported keeping a weapon like a shank and adopting a "tough" appearance to fend off attacks (McCorkle, 1992). In such an exploitive and dangerous environment where the threat of violence is ever present, many inmates have learned to suppress their emotional reactions to events. They develop a "prison mask" (Keve, 1974; McCorkle, 1992), characterized by emotional over-control, that serves to hide their emotions and vulnerability and project an image of control and toughness. With some, this emotional distance from other people that the prisoner creates to protect themselves in prison may become permanent (Haney, 2002; Liebling & Maruna, 2008). Some long-time inmates have used social isolation as a way to cope and adapt to life in prison. They trust no one and lead solitary lives of isolation from other inmates. This, combined with the inability to make decisions on their own and emotional over-control, closely resembles clinical depression (Jose- 11

Kampfner, 1990). Internalizing prison culture can create a type of overreaction, often with violence, to minimal provocations or infractions to personal space or dignity (Haney, 2002). The degradation of the prison experience also often results in a sense of diminished self-worth as prisoners are denied privacy, autonomy, and a sense of dignity (Sykes, 1958). For some, the violent, harsh, and punitive nature of the prison environment produces post-traumatic-stress reactions upon release. Years ago, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was usually called shell shock or combat fatigue and was studied primarily in connection with military veterans (Kulka et al, 1990). However one only has to be a survivor of some traumatic event. A fact sheet from the National Center for PTSD, in the United States, puts it this way: "To be diagnosed with PTSD, an individual must have been exposed to a traumatic event." And this event "must involve some type of actual or threatened physical injury or assault" (www.ptsd.va.gov). The environment in prison is rife with potential for and proximity to physical harm or assault. The post traumatic reaction may begin days, weeks, months, or even years later (van der Kolk, McFarlane, & Weisaeth, 1996). The survivors may involuntarily relive the traumatic event through recurring memories and nightmares. Or the symptoms may be emotional detachment from loved ones, extreme suspicion of others, and difficulty in concentrating (Haney, 2002; van der Kolk et al., 1996). Post Prison Effects The effects of prisonization carry a significant psychological cost and are often not easily relinquished when prisoners are released. In fact, the time of release from prison is often traumatic. The prisoner leaves an institutionalized environment that is 12

confined, slow paced, and regimented and walks out into the world as a free citizen (Irwin, 1970). Some disorientation can be expected and occurs as a result of being transplanted from one environment to another. This is experienced to some extent by other returnees of institutionalized settings (ex. military, etc) (Irwin, 1970; Liebling & Maruna, 2008). But the effects of prisonization may impede a successful transition from prison to home. According to Zamble and Porporino (1990), when offenders enter prison, emotional growth stops as prisoners experience a "behavioral deep freeze" (p.62). that stores outside behaviors until release. Therefore, if an individual's coping skills were poor when they were imprisoned, it is unlikely that they improved during incarceration (Zamble & Porporino, 1990). This may have particular consequences for those who are very young at the time they are incarcerated because they, lacking any other frame of reference, learn to cope and deal with issues solely within the context of the prison environment (Liebling & Maruna, 2008). There is also a broad range of effects that obstruct the former prisoner's ability to re-connect with family and others in their social networks (Irwin, 1970). For example, some prisoners may become uncomfortable when they leave prison and need to make decisions and manage their own schedules (Haney, 2002; Mumola, 2000). Others may lose the ability, for a time, to make decisions and exercise good judgment on their own when their freedom is returned. Inmates may become dependent on the control that the institution provides. (Cressey, 1961; Haney, 2002; Irwin, 1970). Parents who have been incarcerated would have difficulty with the parental responsibility of organizing the lives of their children if they are still dependent on an institution to make decisions and organize their lives (Greene, Haney, & Hurtado, 2000; Haney, 1997). The emotional control adopted as a protection 13

behind bars may become permanent as former prisoners find it difficult to form and maintain relationships. Returning prisoners will have difficulty re-connecting with family members and others in their social networks if they are still struggling with emotional isolation and apathy (Haney, 1997; Haney, 2002). Also, the hypervigilence and mistrust developed as a part of prisonization may make it difficult for former prisoners to trust others in their social networks or for those who are parents to instill trust in their children (Greene et al, 2000; Haney, 2002; Irwin, 1970; Sykes, 1958). These effects may be compounded by the presence of post-traumatic stress symptoms (Haney, 2002; Kulka et al., 1990; van der Kolk et al., 1996). Impact on Reentering the Workforce When compared with behaviors that correlate with positive employment experience, it seems clear that the hypervigilence, loss of autonomy, interpersonal mistrust and suspicion, social withdraw and isolation, diminished sense of self-worth and personal value, and post-traumatic stress reactions that are characteristic of prisonization can impede former prisoners' ability to reenter the workforce (Cressey, 1961; Haney, 2002; Irwin, 1970). For example, Herr (1996) and Neff (1986) assert that a measure of self-efficacy and the ability to function well interpersonally and emotionally is essential for maintaining employment. Employees must also be able to follow directions, demonstrate achievement motivation, become conditioned to a schedule as dictated by the place of employment, and be able to delay gratification (Herr & Cramer, 1996; Neff, 1986). Research suggests that individuals who fail to demonstrate these behaviors have a negative work experience and have difficulty remaining employed (Strauser, Waldrop, & Ketz, 1999). 14

The employment search, itself, is difficult work, especially in a depressed economy. Hartel (2005) and Goleman (2002) argue that searching for employment requires a great deal of initiative, good judgment, ability to interact with others, make decisions, and manage emotions (Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2002; Hartel, Zerbe, & Ashkanasy, 2005). Projecting confidence and professionalism are important when interviewing for employment. Interviewers tend to doubt a candidate's fit for a job when they pick up on negative nonverbal cues. Krasna (2010) suggests that a firm handshake is considered a sign of confidence. Smiling is an impotant way to demonstrate enthisuam about the position. Eye contact is a sign of respect and honesty. Employers are looking for employees who can work and communicate well with a team and adapt to change. Executives polled in a University of Phoenix survey rated attitude, communication, and presentation skills above education and work experience (Cline 2005). Employees must be able to follow directions, become conditioned to a schedule as dictated by the place of employment, and be able to delay gratification (Herr & Cramer, 1996; Neff, 1986). Former Wall Street executive and social entrepreneur, Gerald Chertavian asserts that "social signals that new employees send out can mean the difference between job success and job failure. "It's how you make eye contact, its how you dress, its how you shake hands, it's how you make small talk at a party. It's when we speak, are you nodding you head? Its knowing appropriate conversation." (Bornstein 2011) The job search process can be especially challenging for former prisoners who must also contend with the stigma of having criminal record and the associated structural 15

barriers to finding employment (Petersilia, 2003; Petersilia, 2004). Incarceration also affects wages and wage mobility due to gaps in employment and the erosion of job skills, work habits, and technical knowledge while individuals are in prison (Solomon et al., 2004; Western, 2002). Wage growth depends on steady employment and incarceration reduces offenders' access to steady employment (Western, 2002). As part of the War on Drugs (a set of laws and initiatives designed to discourage the distribution, possession, and consumption of drugs), Congress has enacted mandatory sentencing laws which mandate minimum sentences based solely on type and amount of drugs possessed, and number of former convictions (Travis 2001; 2005). These have caused offenders to be subjected to the psychological and social effects of prison for a longer period of time. The longer a person is incarcerated, the more pronounced the effect (Haney 2002; Liebling & Maruna, 2008). Historically, reentry programming (pre and post-release) has focused on educational, vocational, cognitive restructuring and substance abuse programs and have not specifically addressed the impact of prisonization on former prisoners' abilities to reenter the workforce (Travis, 2005). In fact, most cognitive-behavioral programs do not focus on helping prisoners to adjust to a life outside of prison, but instead work to change the "distorted cognition - self justificatory thinking, misinterpretation of social cues, displacement of blame, deficient moral reasoning, schemas of dominance and entitlement" (Lipsey et al., 2007). Although important, this approach is inadequate because current cognitive-behavioral therapy attempts to teach offenders to understand the thinking processes and choices that immediately preceded and may have led to their criminal behavior (Lipsey et al., 2007). It does not offer help in coping with the counter-productive patterns of thinking and 16

Full document contains 143 pages
Abstract: Each year, hundreds of thousands of prisoners will return to their home states from federal and state incarceration (Travis, 2005). Research suggests that engaging individuals in work after they are released from prison is an important component of successful reentry (Solomon, Johnson, Travis, & McBride, 2004; Travis, 2005). Thirty-five interviews were conducted with stakeholders (former prisoners, Employment Specialists, hiring companies) involved in former prisoners' resocialization into the workforce. It explored how such stakeholders conceptualized the challenges of reentering the workforce after a period of prisonization and how these challenges differ by gender. It also explored the ways that former prisoners and other stakeholders understand success in employment after release from prison. This study demonstrates that even though most former prisoners want to work, that prisonization impacts employability by affecting the ability of former prisoners to function well emotionally and interpersonally in the employment setting by disrupting or impeding the development of the interactional processes, thinking, and behaviors associated with successful employment experiences. These include the ability to work and communicate well with others, follow directions, and demonstrate self-efficacy and achievement (Herr & Cramer, 1996; Neff, 1986). Major findings of this study are that these interactional processes may be disrupted as a result of prisonization's psychological impact. Prisonization may also cause prisoners to internalize and display the behaviors that are common in prison, but that are unacceptable or counter-productive in the employment setting. This study also shows that although there are similarities in the ways that prisonization impacts the employability of men and women, several differences in workforce conduct have been reported. Men may have more difficulty adjusting to the employment setting and may exhibit more anger and aggression (Irwin, 1970; Liebling & Maruna, 2008). Successful prisoner reentry has important implications for former prisoners, the community, and public safety. However, current reentry employment preparation is inadequate in helping former prisoners deal with the effects of prisonization. Discovering what supports help people with employment may significantly inform programs that support those who are in the criminal justice system to reenter the workforce (Travis, 2005; Vacca, 2004).