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Life After Prison: UC Research Analyzes Ex-Offenders' Stigma Management

A UC Blue Ash College sociology professor presents his findings at a national conference after conducting research that included interviews with 60 former inmates.

Date: 8/18/2014 12:00:00 AM
By: Pete Gemmer
Phone: (513) 936-1632

UC ingot   Todd Callais, an assistant professor of sociology at UC Blue Ash College, presented his findings on how ex-inmates cope with life after prison at the American Sociological Association (ASA) Annual Meeting, held Aug. 16-19 in San Francisco.

As part of his three-year research for a new book, Callais conducted in-depth interviews with a total of 60 ex-offenders, but he focused specifically on 13 former inmates for his presentation, titled "Ex-Offenders and Stigma Management: Redemptive Contestation."

Roughly two-thirds of former inmates in the U.S. eventually return to prison, some for committing crimes and others for probation violations. Callais studied ex-inmates who were successful in making the transition from prison to civilian life. The subjects of the research were convicted of felony crimes and had remained out of prison for at least two years after their release.

Callais’ research focused on the stigma these ex-offenders carry with them and considered how they develop a positive self-identity and manage how they will be perceived in daily interactions. “There has been a lot of research on social capital as the key to re-entry for ex-offenders, but I didn’t think enough had been done to look at the unique stigma faced by this population and how those who successfully stay out of prison manage that stigma,” said Callais.

He notes that everyone he interviewed carried some anger about how they were treated by the system – this counters the idea that they had served their time and should be able to become productive members of society. “I found the people who successfully make the transition to life after prison are those who address this anger and take a somewhat hopeless situation and use that as motivation to redeem themselves,” said Callais.

This is the second consecutive year that Callais has presented at the ASA Annual Meeting.

UC Blue Ash College is a regional college within the University of Cincinnati. It offers one of the best values in higher education with access to a nationally recognized UC education in nearly 50 degrees and certificates, as well as tuition that is about half of most colleges and universities. The college is located on a scenic 135-acre wooded campus in the heart of Blue Ash, Ohio. To learn more, call (513) 745-5600, visit us online at www.ucblueash.edu, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.