Keep Your Friends Close and Your Enemies Closer: Prison Visitation, Spatial Distance, and Concentrated Disadvantage of Visitor Neighborhoods, and Offender Recidivism [2019]

Since prisoners who receive visits while incarcerated are less likely to recidivate, scholars have studied predictors of visitation, finding that the distance visitors must travel affects how often they visit, as do characteristics of the visitors’ neighborhoods. This study examines whether spatial distance between visitors and correctional facilities and visitors’ neighborhood disadvantage are related to recidivism. These questions are assessed using data from a sample of approximately 2600 inmates released from Minnesota state prisons. The results of Cox regression models showed that, among offenders who received visits, reconviction was less likely when visitors traveled longer distances, although this varied somewhat based on the measurement used to capture distance. Visitors’ neighborhood disadvantage was not related to reconviction. These findings highlight the importance of visitation for maintaining social ties in the community, and suggest that some visits (such as those from distant visitors) may be especially beneficial for reducing recidivism.

Susan McNeeley & Grant Duwe
Justice Quarterly, 08 Feb 2019