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Social Capital Among Women Offenders: Examining the Distribution of Social Networks and Resources

NCJ Number
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice Volume: 18 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2002 Pages: 167-187
Date Published
21 pages

This article examines whether the support of strong social networks lowers levels of recidivism among female offenders.


The authors note that the current literature on women offenders suggests that successful reentry to these women into society is dependant upon the support of social networks. Social networks provide resources that are helpful to ex-offenders, such as access to employment, education, and training, as well as emotional support. In order to expand the knowledge base concerning women offenders, the current study examined the distribution of network size and the levels of support provided by these social networks. The authors gathered in-person interview data from 402 women felony offenders from Oregon and Minnesota. The participants ranged in age from 16 to 69, with a mean age of 31 years. The authors probed for the women’s access to social networks in terms of the size of the network and the resources offered by the social network. The results of multivariate regression analysis indicated two main findings: first, those offenders who were better educated and commanded higher incomes had access to larger and more resourceful social networks. Second, poorly educated offenders who also had legal incomes below $8,000 annually, tended to have limited access to social networks. Age also seemed to make a difference; those who were younger had smaller social networks to depend upon. The authors note that the probability of recidivism is hypothesized to be higher for those offenders who do not have access to high levels of social support from social networks. Tables, appendix, notes, and references

Date Published: January 1, 2002