Pathways to Prison and Subsequent Effects on Misconduct and Recidivism: Gendered Reality?

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Daggett, Dawn Marie
Simpson, Sally S
This study added to the literature on pathways to prison by examining a sample of federal inmates to assess whether the pathways identified predicted future antisocial behavior, i.e., prison misconduct and post-release criminal activity. Previous research has generally focused on only one point in the criminal justice system, either identifying pathways to prison, analyzing behavior while incarcerated, or focusing on post-release offending. This research examined all of these points. The research presented here identified both unique and overlapping pathways to prison for men and women, as well as similarities and differences in the risk factors that predicted prison misconduct and recidivism for women and men. While the latent class models, which identified the pathways to prison, relied heavily upon indicators highlighted in the gender-responsive literature, the final misconduct and recidivism models included those factors along with traditional, gender-neutral items. The methods in this research moved beyond previous studies that relied primarily on bivariate analyses of female inmates. Four pathways emerged for both men and women each. Three of the pathways overlapped for both groups: drug, street, and the situational offender pathways. Males and females each had one unique pathway which represented opposite ends of the criminal experiences spectrum. A first time offender pathway emerged for women; a more chronic, serious offender pathway emerged for men. When the pathways to prison were the only predictors in the misconduct and recidivism models, the pathways consistently and significantly predicted antisocial behavior. Once the socio-demographic and criminal history factors were added to the models, however, the vast majority of the pathway effects on antisocial behavior were no longer statistically significant. Because the current literature presents mixed results as to whether the same factors predict offending for men and women, this study analyzed gendered aspects of prison misconduct and recidivism. There were more differences than similarities in the factors that significantly impacted these antisocial behaviors.