I am excited to share our recent publication in The Prison Journal from this project. Thanks again for all of your support.
Deena A. Isom Scott, Tia Stevens Andersen, Toniqua C. Mikell, Hunter M. Boehme, Sarah King, & Kelsey Collins
About This Project
About 95% of all state prisoners will be released back into the community. In South Carolina, the Men’s Reentry Initiative (MRI), aims to make that transition easier and more successful. Taking a mixed-methods approach, this projects utilizes administrative data, criminal histories, and retrospective interviews. The end goal is to create a greater understanding of MRI’s impact on participants' lives post-imprisonment and humanize the experiences of incarceration.
Ask the ScientistsJoin The Discussion
What is the context of this research?
With more than 1.5 million people in state and federal correctional facilities (Carson, 2015), the United States has the world’s highest incarceration rate (The Sentencing Project, 2015). Incarceration rates in South Carolina mirror those observed at a national level. In 2014, more than 20,000 people were incarcerated in South Carolina prisons (Carson & Mulako-Wangota, 2016). Because almost all incarcerated individuals are eventually released, rising incarceration rates have also produced a corresponding increase in the number of individuals released into society after serving their prison or jail terms (Morenoff & Harding, 2014; Travis, 2005). Nearly 7,000 individuals are now released from South Carolina prisons each year (Carson, 2015).
What is the significance of this project?
Various reentry programs across the country seek to prepare inmates for their release and equip them with tools and skills necessary for successful community reintegration. The proposed project is an empirical assessment of one such program in South Carolina, the Men’s Reentry Initiative (MRI). MRI has been in operation for over two years and is now being offered in 5 facilities in South Carolina. Although the program has accumulated much support, it has not yet been formally evaluated. A formal evaluation of MRI is essential to better understand whether it effectively reduces participants’ likelihood of criminal behavior relapse following release from prison. A formal evaluation of MRI will provide an empirical foundation for the potential refinement and expansion of its programming.
What are the goals of the project?
The funds will be used to purchase criminal history records for graduates of MRI programming. We will use these criminal history records to calculate criminal behavior relapse, as measured by rearrest following release from prison. Criminal behavior relapse rates for MRI participants will be benchmarked against relapse rates for returning prisoners statewide.
The results of this evaluation will be used in future grant applications to fund the expansion of MRI programming. Results from the project will be presented at the upcoming American Society of Criminology conference. One or more scholarly papers will be prepared and submitted for publication in journals such as the Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency and Criminology & Public Policy.
While criminal histories are publicly available, official records have a cost. Having the criminal histories of all past MRI participants are vital to the project to determine how often they relapse into criminal behavior following their release from prison. Criminal histories can also be used to compare the criminal behavior relapse rates of MRI participants to those of the overall incarcerated population in South Carolina.
Meet the Team
Dr. Deena Isom is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice and African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. At the heart of her scholarly philosophy is a passion for social justice, which to her is a belief in our shared humanity, a valuing of diversity, and a support for fair treatment of all. Overall, she aims to create and disseminate knowledge that will aid in the decline of social stratification in our criminal justice system and all of society.
2015 Emory University, Ph.D. Sociology (specialization in Criminology & Social Psychology)
2009 Northeastern University, M.S. Criminal Justice & Criminology
2006 University of Georgia, B.S. Psychology & B.A. Criminal Justice
Mark Sellers received his Masters of Social Work from the University of South Carolina (USC) in 2005. Mr. Sellers has over 15 years of experience working with persons living with HIV/AIDS/and at risk for acquiring HIV.
Mr. Sellers is currently employed by the University of South Carolina (USC) Department of Internal Medicine (Immunology Center) as a Medical Case Manager, and supervisor of the TROY (Transitioning, Retaining, Orientating, Youth) program for young persons living with HIV/AIDS 18-25 years old.
Mr. Sellers also has extensive work experience with incarcerated individuals and persons with substance abuse challenges. Mr. Sellers is the Director of the Men’s Reentry Initiative (MRI) which seeks to reduce the high rates of recidivism in Richland County. MRI has been in existence since 2012. Facilities that implement MRI are Alvin S Glenn Detention Adult population (Men & Women), Alvin S Glenn Juvenile Division, Broad River Department of Corrections, Manning Pre-Release Correctional Institute, and Lee County Corrections.
Tia Stevens Andersen
Dr. Tia Stevens Andersen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of South Carolina. She has a deep and profound commitment to using research to better understand the needs and circumstances of people in trouble with the law. Her research focuses primarily on girls in trouble with the law, juvenile justice system processing, and the impact of incarceration on individuals, families, and communities.
2013 Michigan State University, Ph.D. Criminal Justice (cognate in Structural Inequalities)
2006 Bowling Green State University, MA Sociology
2004 Oakland University, BA Sociology (concentration in Criminology)
Toniqua Mikell is a third year doctoral student in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests focus on feminist criminology, specifically black feminist criminology and intersectionality. Her research also includes sexual victimization and reentry.
2014 University of South Carolina, MA Criminology & Criminal Justice
2012 Winthrop University, BA Sociology (concentration in Criminology) & Political Science
Kelsey Collins is a first year Ph.D. student in the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include media depictions of girls in trouble with the law, reentry programs, and restorative justice.
2015 Saint Mary's College, BA Sociology
Carson, E. A. (2015). Prisoners in 2014. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Carson, E. A., & Mulako-Wangota, J. (2016). Corrections Statistical Analysis Tool (CSAT) - Prisoners. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Morenoff, J. D., & Harding, D. J. (2014). Incarceration, Prisoner Reentry, and Communities. Annual Review of Sociology, 40(1), 411–429.
Travis, J. (2005). But They All Come Back: Facing the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.
The Sentencing Project. (2015). Trends in U.S. Corrections. Washington, DC: Author.
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