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Ethel Perry


High levels of imprisonment in the United States have surpassed historical records, with the United States having the highest per capita incarceration levels in the world. Criminal desistance research has been conducted to create reentry programs and to reduce recidivism. To contribute to previous studies and promote social change and future research opportunities, this study was designed to explore familial contact during incarceration and how it helps releasees desist from crime. Familial contact, as a component of desistance, relates to social relationships, decision making, positive behaviors, and self-concept; as such, it may be critical to successful reintegration into society. Social identity theory and the identity theory of desistance served as the theoretical frameworks for this study. The research questions were designed to address lived experiences of familial contact during incarceration as an element of the desistance process, recognizing factors that affect familial relations, and detecting behaviors that support familial contact. Data were collected through semistructured interviews with 8 ex-offenders who were 3 or more years beyond criminal desistance. Findings indicated that offenders (a) had self-determination and motivation, with a commitment to make changes; (b) prioritized their development and growth; (c) pursued structural support such as finishing school, community service, and support groups; and (d) chose favorable social structures to leverage positive relationships and environments to increase adaptation and behavior modification. This study may contribute to positive social change by improving familial relationships, implementing a familial training program, supporting established familial relation programs, and reducing recidivism

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