Rethinking Recidivism Journal Article uri icon



  • Prisoner reentry is one of the main criminal justice challenges confronting the United States, especially as the costs of recidivism and incarceration take increasing tolls on city and state budgets, and the effects of criminal activity are felt by families and local communities. Our goal in this article is to develop an alternative approach to prisoner reentry. Our contention is that many reentry efforts focus mainly on the visible effects of recidivism (e.g., parole violations, criminal behavior, and treatment compliance) but do not get at the underlying causes that lead to recidivism in the first place. While traditional methods of surveillance and control focus on the observable problems of recidivism, we argue that the underlying cause is a communication breakdown of being cut off from networks and meaningful relationships that provide the necessary social capital needed for successful reintegration. Therefore, we propose reframing prisoner reentry from a communication perspective, and developing subsequent communication solutions. We suggest that mentoring is one such communication solution, and we present a case study of a successful reentry mentoring program. Our case study uses a mixed research methodology, including quantitative data from a third-party assessment and qualitative data from in-depth interviews. Our key conclusions are that mentoring provides important communication links to enable coordinated service delivery for ex-prisoners, and that mentoring is a valuable conversational resource to help socially construct a favorable postrelease environment for successful reentry. Our target audience are those interested in prisoner reentry and reforming the overall criminal justice system.

publication date

  • September 1, 2013

has restriction

  • closed

Date in CU Experts

  • August 1, 2014 11:08 AM

Full Author List

  • Koschmann MA; Peterson BL

author count

  • 2

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1936-7244

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1937-0245

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 188

end page

  • 207


  • 7


  • 2