The United States prison population and rate of incarceration have climbed to the highest worldwide, and mass incarceration has become a concerning social issue. Research demonstrates that incarceration adversely affects social networks, increases risk factors for children of incarcerated parents, and economically and politically disenfranchises communities and neighborhoods. Through critical examination of the existing rubric of incarceration, reentry emerges as an integral point of intervention for social workers to disrupt the chronic cycle of recidivism and downward spiral caused by incarceration. While past research has provided a cursory knowledge of the risk and protective factors that predict reentry success, much remains obscure. The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the intricate, recondite, and intimate ways that family members function to assist the formerly incarcerated individual during reentry. By analyzing data through a transactional social support paradigm, this paper expands upon and enhances existing literature on the implicit functions of familial social support during prisoner reentry. Implications for social work practice with formally incarcerated individuals are explored based on key findings from the study.
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