Fathers who are released from prison are often re-arrested within three years of release, and family involvement is linked to lower rates of recidivism (Durose, Cooper, and Snyder 2014). We interviewed 19 fathers who met the study’s criteria: they had exited prison in the past 12 months, had contact at least monthly with their child, and lived in urban, inner-city neighborhoods. We recruited participants using snowball and purposive sampling, as well as by posting recruitment flyers in places that individuals who had recently exited prison might frequent, such as social service agencies, libraries, and health clinics.
Participants were screened to determine their interest and eligibility for the study and, once they had provided consent, were scheduled to interview at a time and location that worked best for them. Interviews lasted an average of 63 minutes and were audiotaped. All interviews were transcribed and verified by the PI and another research team member.
The participants in this qualitative study embodied a strong and consistent desire to parent their children. Their voices echoed with a sense of hopefulness that they could use their past experiences to promote better life outcomes for their children and themselves, despite the significant obstacles they faced postprison. Their stories reinforce the importance of building supports for parenting and promoting the development of strong, resilient families that can withstand exposure to risky behaviors and other challenges. These perspectives can guide efforts to develop programs that support paternal reentry and increase family well-being.