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PINS

Prison Inmate Networks Study

Prison Inmate Networks Study (PINS)

This study examines the social networks of prison inmates in a state correctional institution.

Project Team

  • Principal Investigator: Derek Kreager, Ph.D., Department of Sociology & Criminology (dkreager@psu.edu)
  • Co-Principal Investigator: Gary Zajac
  • Co-Investigators: Martin Bouchard (SFU), Dana Haynie (OSU), David Schaefer (ASU), Michaela Soyer (Hunter), Jacob Young (ASU), Sara Wakefield (Rutgers)

About the Project

    • The National Science Foundation made an award of $323,814 to Penn State to support this project, for the period April 15, 2015 - March 31, 2017.
    • Seed funding was provided by the Justice Center to support development of this project, including collection of pilot data.
    • This study is related to the TC-PINS project discussed in the next section and the R-PINS project under development, discussed under the Justice Center Supported Projects section.

    Research Questions

    • What is the structure and implications of inmate network ties for in-prison health and rehabilitation and post-release recidivism?
    • How does an inmate’s position within the unit’s informal network structure relate to his out-of-prison ties and community reentry?

      Project Details

      • Project focuses on inmate social networks in a minimum security general population unit at a medium security Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution.
      • All inmates within a single unit were recruited for participation in computer assisted personal interviews, with a response rate of approximately 70% across two waves of data collection during summer and fall of 2015.
      • Project has full support from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

      Public Data

      • How do I acknowledge the use of the PINS data in an analysis? Please use the following text when acknowledging the use of the data: This research uses data from The Prison Inmate Network Study (PINS), a program project directed and designed Derek Kreager Martin Bouchard, Dana Haynie, David Schaefer, Michaela Soyer, Sara Wakefield, Jacob Young, and Gary Zajac, and is funded by grant LSS-1457193 from the National Science Foundation. Special acknowledgment is due to Corey Whichard, Ed Hayes, Gerardo Cuevas, Wade Jacobsen, and Kim Davidson for interview and coding assistance, and to Bret Bucklen and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for their valuable support of this project. Information on how to obtain the PINS data files is available on the PINS website (http://justicecenter.psu.edu/research/pins). No direct support was received from grant LSS-1457193 for this analysis.
      • How do I cite PINS data in a manuscript? Please use the following text when citing the use of the data: Kreager, Derek, Martin Bouchard, Dana Haynie, David Schaefer, Michaela Soyer, Sara Wakefield, Jacob Young, and Gary Zajac. 2015. The Prison Inmate Network Study (PINS), Wave I, 1995. State College, PA: Justice Center for Research, Penn State University.

        Implications

        • This study will have important implications for understanding how inmate social networks influence inmates’ lives and wellbeing in prison, as well as their reentry prospects.

         

        View the Project Abstract (.docx file)

        Reentry Prison Inmate Networks Study (R-PINS)

        This study in development examines how the in-prison social networks of prison inmates examined in the PINS study (see summary of this under Active Funded Research Projects) impacts post release experiences of selected inmates from the PINS study who have since been released.

        Project Team

        • Investigators: Derek Kreager, Department of Sociology & Criminology (dkreager@psu.edu), Corey Whichard (PSU Criminology doctoral student), Sara Wakefield (Rutgers), Michaela Soyer (Hunter)

        About the Project

        • This project in development extends the current PINS study (see summary of this under Active Funded Research Projects) with intensive interviews of parole-eligible inmates prior to and after prison release.
        • Seed funding was provided by the Justice Center to support development of this project and interview costs.
        • External funding is currently being sought to further the development of this work.

        Research Questions and Project Details

        • This project will explore post-release experiences of inmates enrolled in PINS, examining the impact of prison-based and community network ties on post release outcomes including employment, housing, community social ties, health and recidivism.
        • A subset of inmates who participated in the PINS study were recruited to participate in interviews after their release, with over 100 surveyed inmates  agreeing to do so.
        • Exploratory interviews are presently being conducted throughout the state with inmates who have since been released to test methods and elucidate questions in support of a larger research agenda around inmate social networks and reentry experiences and outcomes.  Released inmates will be interviewed in several waves.
        • This line of inquiry can lend important policy insight into how social capital and ties before, during and after prison impact reentry outcomes and promote successful offender reintegration.

        Therapeutic Community Prison Inmate Networks Study (TC-PINS)

        This study examines the social networks of prison inmates in a prison drug and alcohol therapeutic community (TC).

        Project Team

        • Principal Investigator: Derek Kreager, Ph.D., Department of Sociology & Criminology (dkreager@psu.edu)
        • Co-Investigators: Gary Zajac, Martin Bouchard (SFU), George DeLeon, (NYU), Dana Haynie (OSU), David Schaefer (ASU), Michaela Soyer (Hunter), Jacob Young (ASU)

        About the Project

        • The National Institute of Health made an award of $444,084 to Penn State to support this project, for the period August 1, 2015 – July 31, 2017.
        • Seed funding was provided by the Justice Center to support development of this project, including collection of pilot data.
        • This study is related to the PINS project discussed in the previous section and the R-PINS project under development, discussed under the Justice Center Supported Projects section.

          Research Questions

          • How does the informal inmate network structure relate to the diffusion of treatment outcomes in a prison-based therapeutic community?
          • How do inmates’ positions within the TC network structure relate to their treatment engagement and post-TC drug relapse and criminal recidivism?
          • How do informal inmate network structures influence offender reentry?

            Project Details

            • Project will focus on inmate social networks in a drug and alcohol treatment therapeutic community (TC) within a State Correctional Institution within the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.
            • Selection of a specific institution is still being finalized, with an initial wave of data collection anticipated for summer of 2016.
            • As with the PINS study, all inmates within a selected TC will be recruited for participation in computer assisted personal interviews.
            • Project has full support from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

              Implications

              • This study will have important implications for understanding how inmate social networks influence inmate reentry as well as the dynamics of the prison therapeutic community setting.

              Understanding Incarceration and Re-Entry Experiences of Female Inmates and their Children: The Women’s Prison Inmate Networks Study (WO-PINS)

              This developmental study investigates the incarceration and re-entry experiences of female inmates and their children.

              Project Team

              • Investigators: Derek Kreager, Department of Sociology & Criminology (dkreager@psu.edu), Gary Zajac, Sara Wakefield (Rutgers University), Dana Haynie (Ohio State University), and Michaela Soyer (Hunter College)

              About the Project

              • This project will fill three critical knowledge gaps identified by the National Research Council in their report on the causes and consequences of mass incarceration in the United States: (1) the absence of even basic information on modern conditions of confinement, (2) the potential heterogeneity in incarceration effects across individual and institutional contexts, and (3) the limited understanding of any association between maternal incarceration and child well-being.
              • The proposed project will leverage strong relationships with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to explore the prison and re-entry experiences of female inmates incarcerated in two Pennsylvania prison units. 

              Project Details

              • In Phase 1, investigators will reveal each units' informal organization and culture using innovative social network data that maps the unit's friendship network, status hierarchy, and romantic ties. Network analyses will test hypotheses for the sources of prison status and the associations between inmate social position and outcomes such as prison victimization, mental health, official misconduct, and family visitation.
              • In Phase 2, parole-eligible inmate respondents in the two Pennsylvania prisons will be administered semi-structured qualitative and network interviews to garner their future expectations, social capital, and preparations for community re-entry. Women's expected social networks provide a unique glimpse into the re-entry process that can later be compared to actual networks upon release. This phase of the project has clear implications for family reintegration, employment, post-release program participation, and relapse/recidivism. Contemporaneously, child and caregiver interviews will be conducted for inmate respondents who are mothers. These interviews will capture the well-being, fears, aspirations, and preparations of inmates' families and surrogate parents prior to prison release.
              • During Phase 3, investigators will conduct two post-release community interviews of Phase 2 respondents to understand how the previously imprisoned women, their children, and caregivers have adjusted to life after prison and if their envisioned plans came to fruition. The goals of this phase will be to identify and drill down on the mechanisms underlying successful prison re-entry and criminal desistance.

              Project Products

              • Aided by an advisory board of social scientists, correctional practitioners, and child advocates, the project's data and products will test theoretically-driven hypotheses while also informing prison-based and community programs aimed at smoothing the inmate re-entry experience and reducing negative child and inmate health and behavioral outcomes. 
              • NIJ award for $685,857 over 3 years.