When attendance in after-care programs that may help ex-offenders successfully reenter society is not a mandated condition of prison release, getting individuals to voluntarily attend these programs is challenging. In order to help social service agencies better encourage ex-offenders to participate in these programs, it is important to understand ex-offenders’ anticipated needs (thereby increasing possible motivation for attendance) and perceived barriers to program attendance prior to their actual release. Consequently, 256 individuals incarcerated in a county prison in northeastern Pennsylvania were surveyed to address these issues. Findings suggest that women, Hispanics, and parents of children under age 18 anticipate the greatest number of needs upon their future prison release. The most commonly anticipated post-release needs were obtaining food, clothing, education, and child care, although there are group differences. Regarding anticipated programing issues, all inmates foresee transportation barriers to post-release program attendance, and bus passes were the most preferred form of assistance. Scheduling and child care issues were also anticipated programing obstacles and were most pronounced for parents of young children, who report the greatest amount of anticipated needs but also the most barriers to voluntary post-release program attendance. Other group variations and programing implications for voluntary after care are discussed.
Journal of Social Service Research, 17 Aug 2018