Inside the Lives of Hispanic Origin Ex-Convicts: Pre- and Post-Incarceration
Using in-depth interviews, this study examined the social upbringing, subjective experiences and coping mechanisms of Mexican origin ex-convicts before and after their incarceration. Overall, our participants experienced multiple structural disadvantages prior to and following incarceration. Many grew up in environments with little social control—lacking good parenting or role models—and embedded in communities of concentrated poverty and criminality. Many also disclosed their struggles to survive, lack of positive influences and legitimate/constructive coping mechanisms. Contrary to public stereotypes that Mexican origin ex-convicts are hardcore criminals, many were convicted of non-violent drug-related charges and the majority aspired to a crime-free future. To reduce recidivism and minimize future re-offending, we suggest that clinical practitioners, social service providers and policy planners address the aforementioned needs and challenges that contributed to ex-convicts getting in trouble with the law to begin with.
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