A research brief from the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Research on Poverty titled How does incarceration affect where people live after prison, and does it vary by race? reports that after incarceration, white ex-inmates tend to relocate to more disadvantaged neighborhoods than they lived in before prison. Black and Hispanic ex-inmates do not move to more disadvantaged neighborhoods, but on average live in significantly worse neighborhoods before and after prison than white ex-inmates.
The study is based on data collected from a biennial survey that began in 1979 with a group of 12,686 individuals who were between the ages of 14 and 22 years of age when the survey began. Neighborhood quality was based on characteristics typically associated with socioeconomic disadvantage: poverty, joblessness, female-headed families, and receipt of public assistance. These data came from the U.S. Census.
Black and Hispanic ex-inmates lived in significantly more disadvantaged neighborhoods before and after prison than white ex-inmates. The typical white ex-inmate’s pre-prison neighborhood was better than the average neighborhood. White ex-inmates’ average post-prison neighborhood was still better than average but to a significantly lesser extent. The typical black and Hispanic ex-inmate’s pre-prison neighborhood was more disadvantaged than the average neighborhood, and they relocated after prison to similarly disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The authors emphasize that although incarceration has a negative impact on neighborhood outcomes for whites, their findings do not suggest incarceration is more harmful to them overall. The authors emphasize the importance of effective post-incarceration reintegration policies.
The report How does incarceration affect where people live after prison, and does it vary by race? is available at: http://bit.ly/1puId5m
A more detailed research paper, Racial Variation in the Effect of Incarceration on Neighborhood Attainment, upon which the shorter report is based, is available at: http://1.usa.gov/1R6oSOI