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Dr. Derek Kreager receives NIJ grant for Women’s Prison Inmate Networks Study

Congratulations to Dr. Derek Kreager and a team of researchers recently received a three-year National Institute of Justice grant for their project, “Understanding Incarceration and Re-Entry Experiences of Female Inmates and their Children: The Women’s Prison Inmate Networks Study (WO-PINS).”

This study will explore the prison and re-entry experiences of female inmates incarcerated in two Pennsylvania prisons. 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 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. Additionally, analyses of longterm arrest and reincarceration will be conducted for all surveyed prison units. The goals of this phase will be to identify and drill down on the mechanisms underlying successful prison re-entry and criminal desistance.

Investigators include:

  • Derek Kreager (PSU Soc/Crim) - Principal Investigator
  • Gary Zajac (PSU Justice Center Director) – Co-Investigator
  • Dana Haynie (OSU) – Co-Principal Investigator
  • Sara Wakefield (Rutgers) – Co-Principal Investigator
  • Michaela Soyer (Hunter College) – Co-Investigator

Advisory Board – Bret Bucklen (PADOC), Jeffrey Beard (PSU Justice Center), Candace Kruttschnitt (Toronto), Rebecca Shafler (Minnesota) 

The project also involves the following Penn State Criminology graduate students and research associates:
Corey Whichard, Kim Davidson, Ted Greenfelder, Brianna Jackson, Elaine Arsenault, and Gerardo Cuevas

WO-PINS was recently featured in a Penn State News article, the article can be found here: