The influence of social bonds on recidivism: a study of Texas prisoners paroled since 2001
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The present study examines the influence of social bonds on recidivism for a random sample of 250 male offenders released from Texas prisons since 2001. Social bonds are defined as the offender being employed, being married, or seeking educational pursuits. Based on life-course theory, developed by Sampson and Laub (1990), the researcher hypothesized that offenders released from prison who developed attachments (social bonds) would have less likelihood of recidivating than offenders who did not develop attachments (social bonds). Additionally, the researcher hypothesized that recidivists who developed attachments (social bonds) would have longer periods crimefree before re-incarceration than recidivists who lacked attachments (social bonds). The researcher used hierarchical binary logistic regression and Cox proportional hazard modeling to test the hypotheses. Although social bonds did not decrease the likelihood of re-incarceration, Cox proportional hazard modeling found that recidivists who obtained employment upon release from prison had longer periods before recidivating than those who did not obtain employment. The results indicate that employment may temporarily motivate offenders released from prison to avoid re-incarceration, but the affects appear to diminish over time. Social workers providing services to offenders released from prison should be aware that the influence of employment on desistance from crime might weaken over time, so they should continuously measure their clients' motivation levels regarding the desire to avoid re-incarceration.