Sentencing & Prisoner Reentry In Michigan

Research on incarceration, probation, reintegration and recidivism

Homelessness and Housing Insecurity among Former Prisoners

Publication Abstract

Herbert, Claire, Jeffrey Morenoff, and David Harding. 2015. “Homelessness and Housing Insecurity among Former Prisoners.” Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 1(2):44-79.


This research analyzes the predictors of homelessness and housing instability among the formerly incarcerated, drawing on data on thousands of individuals over a multi- year study of prisoner reentry in Michigan. Higher earnings and social support from parents and romantic partners are the most effective buffers against residential insecurity among former prisoners, while forced moves to correctional facilities are correlated with future residential instability. Policy interventions that seek to reduce residential instability among former prisoners should include strengthening a parolee’s familial connections, improving earnings capacity, and cautious use of mandatory interventions that result in a temporary change of residence.

Key Findings

Formerly incarcerated individuals transitioning back to society have the highest rate of residential instability of any known demographic group, moving on average about 2.6 times per year.
The number of residential moves is associated with a parolee’s probability of being arrested and of testing positive for drug or alcohol use.
Parole sanctions that require a former prisoner to reside at a correctional facility (e.g. jail, a technical rule violator center, or drug treatment facility) are associated with higher rates of residential instability even after re-release.

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