Understanding Parolees’ Residential Instability

Understanding Parolees’ Residential Instability
Claire Herbert, Jeffrey Morenoff, David Harding, and Liam Purvis
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Approximately 700,000 individuals are released from prison in the United States each year. Among ex-offenders, homelessness and housing instability are correlated with recidivism. Research published by the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan examined residential instability among ex-offenders to understand the contributing factors and lead to solutions that improve the prospects for successful re-entry. The study used data from a longitudinal study of parolees in Michigan. The random sample includes data on 3,681 individuals from the time of their release in 2003 through either their re-incarceration or discharge from parole.

Major findings:

  • Parolees moved an average of 2.6 times per year. The common definition of residential instability is moving one or more times per year.
  • About half of the moves occurred when a parolee was within their first eight weeks at an address. Three-quarters of moves happened in the first six months at a property.
  • Parolees are at the highest risk of re-arrest or a failed drug test in the month after moving.
  • The probability of a parolee moving in any given week is the highest for those living in a hotel or motel, shelter, or experiencing homelessness.
  • Those living with a friend have about half the probability of moving compared with the three most unstable situations.
  • Parolees have the lowest probably of moving in any given week when living on their own, with a romantic partner, with a parent, or with other family.
  • Those with higher incomes are less likely to move.
  • Even the most residentially stable parolees are likely to move more than once per year.