An Assessment of Prisoner Reentry, Legal Financial Obligations and Family Financial Support: A Focus on Fathers




Montes, Andrea N.
Wallace, Danielle
Fahmy, Chantal
Henson, Abigail
Chamberlain, Alyssa W.
Jacobs, Leah A.

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Scholars have found that family support is an important facilitator of successful reentry from prison to the community. At the same time, they have argued that owing court-ordered fines or fees, also called legal financial obligations (LFOs), can act as an additional barrier to reentry, especially for parents. There remains a need to test how LFOs impact the financial support formerly incarcerated parents receive from their families. The current study responds to this gap by employing logistic regression analyses of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative (SVORI) data to test whether owing court fees is associated with formerly incarcerated fathers’ (1) perceptions of available financial support from family and (2) receipt of financial support from family. We find that owing court fees is not associated with perceptions of available financial support. However, owing court fees has a positive, statistically significant association with receiving financial support from family during the first three months after prison release. This relationship remains after accounting for whether the person owes child support or sees their children monthly. Our results suggest that LFOs may create a greater need for financial support among formerly incarcerated fathers, making the financial challenges of reentry a consequence not just for those who were incarcerated but for their loved ones as well.



financial sanctions, legal financial obligations, familial support, prisoner reentry, collateral consequences


International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18 (18): 9625 (2021)


Criminology and Criminal Justice