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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Parolee Recidivism in California: The Effect of Neighborhood Context and Social Service Agency Characteristics


We studied a sample of re-entering parolees in California in 2005-06 to examine whether the social structural context of the census tract, as well as nearby tracts, along with the relative physical closeness of social providers, affects serious recidivism resulting in imprisonment.  We found that a one standard deviation increase in the presence of nearby social service providers (within two miles) decreases the likelihood of recidivating 41%, and that this protective effect was particularly strong for African American parolees.  This protective effect was diminished by over-taxed services (as proxied by potential demand).  We found that higher concentrated disadvantage and social disorder (as measured by bar and liquor store capacity) in the tract increases recidivism, but also that higher levels of disadvantage and disorder in nearby tracts increase recidivism.  A one standard deviation increase in the concentrated disadvantage of the focal neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods increases the likelihood of recidivating 26%.  The findings suggest that the social context to which parolees return (both in their own neighborhood and nearby neighborhoods), as well as the geographic accessibility of social service agencies, plays an important role in their successful reintegration.

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