Perceptions Of Hispanic Offenders Toward Reentry Programs
Southeast Missouri State University
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in
December 2007 that there are 2,293,157
prisoners being held in federal or state prisons or
The proportion of offenders returning to federal
prison within 3 years increase from11.4% in 1986
to 18.6% in 1994 (Bureau of Justice Statistics)
BJS reported in 2007 of the 2,293,157 prisoners:
3,138 Black male prisoners per 100,000 Black males
1,259 Hispanic male prisoners per 100,000 Hispanic
481 White males prisoners per 100,000 White males
HISTORY OF REENTRY
During 1800s, prisoners served a determinate
amount of time in very crowded prisons.
In the 1900s, inmates began serving
indeterminate sentences which began to focus on
the rehabilitation of the inmates.
Parole board began to emerge in many states.
Indeterminate sentencing and parole boards
collapsed in the late 1970’s, early 1980s
During 1980s and 1990s, “get tough” policies
were implemented along with mandatory
sentencing and truthinsentencing laws.
Petersilia (2003) defined reentry programs as “all
activities and programming conducted to prepare
exconvicts to return safely to the community and
live as law abiding citizens” (p.3).
Travis et al. (2001) defined reentry as a process
with programs and activities that aid the
prisoner in the reentry process.
Seiter & Kadela (2003) explained reentry
programs specifically focus on the transition from
prison to community and/or initiate treatment in
a prison setting and link with a community
programs to provide continuity of care.
IN PRISON REENTRY PROGRAMS
Some reentry programs are offered inside prison.
According to Austin (2001), “While incarcerated,
inmates can participate in limited number of
programs that are designed to assist them in
enhancing their ability to succeed upon release”
However the participation rate of reentry
programs inside prison are declining.
Lack of inmate participation is linked to small,
unorganized and ill suited inprison programs.
Petersilia (2004) indicated the ultimate goal of
reentry programs is reintegration, which clearly
includes more than remaining arrestfree for a
specified period time.
Effective reentry programs address education
and employment issues along with substance
Listwan, Cullen & Latessa (2006) emphasized
that reentry programs cannot focus solely on
educating offenders, but rather reentry programs
should help offenders understand the
consequences of their behavior and help them
Researchers argued correctional programs should
focus their attention on high risk offenders.
Serious Violent Offender Reentry Initiatives
Bouffard & Bergeron (2006) concluded the reentry
program successfully reached the targeted population
and increased community relations between the
offenders and society.
Basile (2002) proposed implementing reentry courts
that closely monitor the offender’s progress and also
meeting the need for public safety while providing
needed services to the offender.
An estimated 600,000 inmates are returning to
communities around the United States (Lynch &
Sabol, 2001; Petersilia, 2003; Travis et. al, 2001).
The majority of exprisoners are mostly male,
minority, and unskilled (Petersilia, 2003).
Race is a critical dimension when discussing
Petersilia (2003) indicated, “About onethird of
parole entrants are white, 47 percent are black
and 16 percent are Hispanic, hence about two
thirds of all returning prisoners are racial or
ethnic minorities” (p. 26).
According to the Census Bureau website, in 2006,
the Hispanic population grew to around
44,321,038 which constitute 15% of the total
According the Bureau of Prison website, they
incarcerate 200,148 inmates and of those 31.2%
17% Mexican, 1.6% Dominican Republic, and 1.5%
Petersilia (2003) stated, “In terms of inmates in
prison, Hispanics represent the fastest growing
minority group” (p. 26).
PROBLEMS INMATES FACE WITH
Durose & Mumola (2006) surveyed prisoners about
their substance abuse issues and reported 66%
indicated they had been using drugs during the
month prior to their offense and 25% stated they
were dependent on alcohol prior to entering prison.
Petersilia (2003) explained, “We do know that the
vast majority of prison inmates with substance abuse
problems do not receive treatment in prison” (p. 47).
Without proper substance abuse treatment inside
prison, returning offenders have trouble resisting
temptation or kicking their habit.
Physical and Mental Illness
Petersilia (2003) emphasized, “By any indicator,
prison inmates and releasees are less healthy—both
physically and mentally—than the population at
large” (p. 34).
Hammett (2001) reported, “nearly one quarter of all
people living with HIV or AIDS, one third living with
Hepatitis C, and one third with TB in the United
States in 1997 were released from a correctional
facility that year (p. 302).
Petersilia (2002) explained, “Even when public
mental services are available, many mentally ill
individuals fail to use them because they fear
institutionalization, deny they are mentally ill, or
distrust the mental health system” (p. 369).
Visher et al. (2003) reported that the highest level of
education the majority of respondents had prior to
entering prison was 10th and 11th grade.
Vacca (2004) emphasized that educational programs
need to teach inmates to read effectively, but also
provide reinforcement that helps promote successful
transition back into society.
Bedard, Eschholz & Gertz (1994) indicated the
importance of having correctional education respond
to the needs of different ethnic groups.
Travis et al. (2001) stated, “Studies have shown that
having a job with decent wages is associated with
lower rates of offending” (p. 31).
Petersilia (2001) suggested that incarceration is
stigmatizing and that there is reluctance among
employers to hire exoffenders.
Along with employers not wanting to hire ex
offenders out of fear, is the fact that they are legally
banned from working in certain fields.
Visher et al. (2003) conducted a study of inmates
preparing for reentry and reported only 30% of
respondents currently had a job in prison.
Reintegration can be a stressful time and many
offenders will turn to their family for support.
Visher & Travis (2003) indicated, “Strong ties
between prisoners and their families or close friends
appear to have a positive impact on post release
success” (p. 99).
La Bodega de la Familia (the family grocery)
According to Shapiro & Schwartz (2001), La Bodega de la
Familia has been testing the proposition that strengthening
families of substance abusers under supervision can
improve success of treatment.
La Bodega de la Familia targets each family’s strengths
which can be brought to the surface to assist in offender’s
The purpose of this case study is to explore the
perceptions of Hispanic inmates and correctional
personnel regarding reentry programs inside the
The research questions that will guide this study
1. What are the perceptions of Hispanic offenders
regarding reentry programs?
2. What are the perceptions of the correctional
personnel regarding the impact of reentry programs
on Hispanic inmates?
This study will utilize a case study approach.
A case study is a “strategy of inquiry in which
the researcher explores in depth a program,
event, activity, process, or one or more
individuals” (Creswell, 2009, p. 13).
POPULATION AND SAMPLE
The sample will be obtained from one of the
Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities.
For this study a Federal Correctional Institution
(FCI) that is located in the Midwest has been
It houses approximately 1,278 male offenders.
The participants will be selected from Hispanic
inmates participating in reentry programming
inside the prison
The second sample will be selected from
correctional personnel who teach reentry
DATA COLLECTION AND
The data will be collected by the researcher.
The qualitative data will be obtained through
semistructured, openended, facetoface
interviews with Hispanic inmates and
correctional personnel at the FCI.
An interview schedule has been developed from
the emergent themes of the literature review.
The interviews will be conducted in English or
Spanish, which ever the participant prefers.
The interview will be tape recorded and
A copy of the research proposal will be forwarded
to the Human Subject Committee.
Upon the approval of the committee, the
interview will be conducted.
The tape recordings will be transcribed verbatim
and the researcher will identify emergent themes
from the transcriptions.
In order to organize and access emergent themes
from the transcriptions, the findings will be
imported in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.