In 2001, researchers at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., launched a pilot study in the state of Maryland for a four-state, longitudinal research project examining prisoner reentry. The first stage of the pilot involved self-administered surveys with 324 prisoners in the 30 to 90 days prior to their expected release. These surveys presented many research challenges, including designing a self-administered instrument that would be accessible to the prison population, developing appropriate sampling and recruiting methods, and conducting research in a prison setting. This paper describes the research procedures that were employed to obtain this baseline data and presents some preliminary findings from our survey of soon-to-be-released prisoners. The results presented include descriptive information on prisoner demographics, criminal histories, substance use, and family relationships, as well as correlation analyses of prisoner attitudes and expectations for life after release.
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