All of the 1.6 million individuals incarcerated in the U.S. today belong to a family.  While the deleterious effects of incarceration on the family are well known, there is little understanding of the role family plays in the reintegration process after prison. Therefore, TGI's Participatory Action Research Group was thrilled to begin the study, "What Does Family Mean to You? The Reintegration Experience of Parolees and their Families", in Summer 2010. Participatory Action Research (PAR) employs a method of inquiry that works directly with community members to develop research projects that address their specific concers.  "What Does Family Mean to You?", developed in partnership with 16 paroled adults and their family members, explores the reintegration process from both parolees' and family members' perspectives. This is one of the first studies to examine the role that family relationships and structure play in the reintegration efforts of paroled adults. Initially funded by the UCLA School of Nursing, where Dr. Marlow was a post-doctoral fellow, the study is now supported by TGI. 

Research partner and TGI client-member, Alejandra Bautista, was instrumental in recruiting and interviewing participants. The team completed interviews with 8 parolee-family member dyads and will conduct interviews with four more dyads later this winter.  Preliminary findings suggest that: 1) families both support and hinder reintegration efforts; 2) intergenerational incarceration is pervasive; and 3) family relations evolve and are not defined by relationship dynamics prior to incarceration, i.e. relationships change over time for better and for worse.

Alejandra_Bautista_2Alejandra Bautista, TGI's fantastic research partner!

We are excited about these first results, as they shed light on the complex and diverse relationships that exist between parolees and their families.  They also represent the first results from an expanding portfolio of participatory action research projects that TGI and its community partners are developing.  While findings from this study will inform a large, longitudinal cohort study of family reintegration after prison, they also, more importantly, provide the foundation for a program of community-based research that will create meaningful knowledge to improve the lives of parolees and their families.

GRATITUDE! TGI is grateful for initial funding from the UCLA School of Nursing Health Disparities and Vulnerable Populations Research Program for this project.

THANK YOU!  TGI's Participatory Action Research (PAR) Group thanks the Alameda County Parole Department for allowing us to promote and recruit for this study at its weekly PACT meetings.