William & Mary

Predicting Recidivism

Poster (pdf)

All inmates experience similar stressors upon release; however, female inmates with young children or newborns must manage added maternal stress related to their maternal role. Also, incarcerated females are more likely to have previously experienced intimate partner violence (IPV), which may add an additional stressor impacting their day-to-day life. Considering 35% of females released from state prison recidivate within one year, the present study seeks to determine whether IPV and maternal stress predict recidivism among previously incarcerated mothers. Participants were recruited from seven jail facilities (n=182), 51.1% were African American, 50% had not completed high school, 25% were first time mothers, 67% were single, and 30.8% recidivated within the year following the birth of their child. Average age and incarceration length was 25.6 years and 11 weeks, respectively. Factors related to maternal stress include delivery while incarcerated (20%), low birth weight or preterm babies (11.1%), and babies going to the neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU) (15.9%). Approximately 30% of participants reported abuse from an ex-partner, current partner, or someone else. Although IPV and maternal stress do not independently predict recidivism, there is a marginal interaction between IPV and maternal stress with those reporting previous IPV exposure and greater maternal stress being more likely to recidivate, β = .27, p = .06, Δr2 = .07. By gaining a better understanding of factors contributing to recidivism, interventions and services can be tailored to meet recently incarcerated mothers’ needs.