In Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison, noted Harvard sociologist Bruce Western tells the stories of men and women leaving prison for neighborhoods around Boston. While earlier studies have focused on the stigma of a criminal record, the men and women of Boston also struggled greatly with human frailty -- mental illness, addiction, and physical disability -- that threatened success after incarceration and impaired the effectiveness of programs. They had experienced serious violence, often as perpetrators, but just as frequently as victims and witnesses. Under these conditions, freedom after prison was not a status granted by release, but something attained gradually. Justice in this world can be found more in the abatement of violent environments than in the punishment of violent people.
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