The Importance of Positive Social Support During Reentry From Prison: Examining the Role of Volunteer Mentoring

Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2021 Nov 21;306624X211059316. doi: 10.1177/0306624X211059316. Online ahead of print.


Social support appears to be important in improving outcomes for incarcerated individuals during the reentry process not only in terms of general wellbeing but also in gaining employment and avoiding recidivism. Mentoring programs have become increasingly popular interventions that are intended to provide such support during reentry. However, research on mentoring programs is limited and tends to focus solely on the programs' impact on recidivism, a distal outcome. Through the use of semi-structured, in-depth interviews, this qualitative study focuses on more proximal outcomes, exploring how reentering individuals who are receiving volunteer mentoring through a transitional housing program define successful reentry and perceive the value of different types of support they received from their mentors. Participants identified several indicators of successful reentry and discussed the types of support that were helpful, harmful, or absent. Implications for practice and areas for future research are discussed.

Keywords: incarcerated individuals; qualitative; reentry; social support; volunteer mentoring.