Book Review: On the outside: Prisoner reentry and reintegration

AuthorKen Balusek
Published date01 March 2023
Date01 March 2023
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Harding, D. J., Morenoff, J. D., & Wyse, J. J. B. (2019). On the outside: Prisoner reentry and reintegration. Chicago,
IL: University of Chicago Press. 308 pp. $30, ISBN 978-0-2266-0764-1.
Reviewed by: Ken Balusek ,Rockhurst University, Kansas City, MO, USA
DOI: 10.1177/0734016819883915
Within the f‌irst pages of On the Outside: Prisoner Reentry and Reintegration, some readers may fear
that what is contained in the pages that lie ahead is nothing more than a novel-likepolitically based
and biased, opinionated diatribe against society in general, and more specif‌ically, the criminal justice
system. Fears are quickly diminished as the authors introduce the foundations of the book in the form
of a mixed-methods model involving both qualitative and quantitative data.
The introduction of the book does a good job of presenting all the facts regarding mass incarcer-
ation that corrections scholars are all too familiar with. A brief history of the prison boom is also
presented. For those new to the study of corrections, this information serves as a great primer to
the phenomena of mass incarceration. This is also important to the remainder of the book because
it puts into perspective the scope of the need to be more cognizant of the growing reentry paradigm.
Considering that the vast majority of inmates will eventually leave prison, reentry will continue to be
a relevant and important issue to corrections scholars, practitioners, and students alike.
The introduction also introduces the reader to the original research that serves as the foundation
for the book. The authors draw upon two sources of data. First, they describe the qualitative portion
of the research, which involved interviews of six individuals who were incarcerated in the prison
system in Michigan. These individuals are followed after their release from prison in order to give
the reader a deeper insight into the individuals and their experiences with reentering society. The
six individuals were selected for their variation in race, gender, and experiences. These individuals
are introduced to the reader in Chapter 1 through an in-depth discussion of the individualssocial,
educational, and criminal backgrounds. These individual case studies are used throughout the book
as examples for the various issues related to reentry. These experiences enhance the book in a way
that makes the issues more personal, which allows the reader to gain a greater appreciation of the
diff‌iculties individuals face with reentry.
The quantitative aspect of the study is also presented. The original research data source the authors
draw upon occasionally throughout the book is a quantitative longitudinal study which followed
every prisoner released to parole in 2003 in Michigan. This totaled 11,064 prisoners as participants
in the study. Basic sociodemographic variables, criminal history, postprison experiences with the
criminal justice system, employment and earnings, living arrangements, neighborhood contexts,
and parole agentscase notes were collected and analyzed. In addition to providing additional
data related to issues presented and discussed in the book, this data set helps contextualize the qual-
itative interviews discussed above. The Appendix provides more detail regarding the methodology of
both the qualitative and quantitative data collection. Included is an interview schedule outlining the
qualitative interviews with the case study participants.
The heart of the book is found in Chapters 26. Each of these chapters tackles an issue the authors
deem important to prisoners reentering society after a term of incarceration. For example, in Chapter
2, the authors discuss how the six individuals interviewed must adjust to life outside of prison. They
also present some of the expectations the prisoners had when preparing to leave prison. This chapter
relies heavily on the qualitative portion of the research for a deep and rich presentation of the par-
ticipantsexpectations and adjustments after leaving prison. The prisoners express their joy of
their impending freedom to do some of the little things they enjoy but are unable to do in prison.
They also express the joy of leaving behind the prison routine and the deadtime that is all too
Book Reviews 133

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