Home Free: Prisoner Reentry and Residential Change After Hurricane Katrina

Home Free: Prisoner Reentry and Residential Change After Hurricane Katrina

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Each year in the United States, more than 625,000 individuals are released from prison. Half will be back in prison within just three years. Many former prisoners who reoffend return home to their old communities, where the same family, friends, drugs, and criminal opportunities await them.

In Home Free, David S. Kirk uses Hurricane Katrina as a natural experiment to examine whether residential relocation away from an old neighborhood can lead to desistance from crime. Drawing upon both quantitative and qualitative evidence and data from an experimental housing mobility program, he
focuses on the lives of individuals released from Louisiana prisons soon after the hurricane, some who moved away from New Orleans and some who did not. Kirk further explores the impact of the Katrina-induced residential change, which provides a unique opportunity to investigate what happens when
individuals move not just a short distance away from home, but to entirely different cities, counties, and social worlds. In a series of analyses, Kirk shows the impact that changes in structured daily activities and peer relationships, as well as opportunities for cognitive transformation can have
to substantially reduce the likelihood of recidivism.

Addressing one of the biggest challenges now facing the criminal justice system, Home Free offers a story of redemption. In light of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Kirk provides important insights into how the power of a fresh start can have considerable policy implications for reducing
recidivism.