Date of Award

May 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Social Welfare

First Advisor

David Pate

Committee Members

James Topitzes, Theodore Lentz, Marcus Britton


Black neighborhoods, carceral displacement, carceral gentrification, critical race theory, recidivism, walking interview


Mass incarceration has consequences for not only individuals but also families and neighborhoods. Infused with critical race theory, this interdisciplinary study applied an exploratory, sequential mixed-methods design to examine the neighborhood characteristics associated with higher risks of recidivism in the era of mass incarceration. In the first phase of the study, walking interviews were conducted with 19 Black men within three years of their last release from a carceral institution. One of the place-based themes that emerged from these interviews was gentrification, which was identified and associated with the built environment of the local neighborhood (e.g., city-owned property, exclusionary housing market), the political economy within the larger city and region (e.g., redevelopment of downtown, fresh water sources), and the role of mass incarceration in contributing to demographic shifts amenable to gentrification processes. Despite multigenerational connections to the neighborhood, participants faced enormous barriers accessing permanent housing and land, even in the early stages gentrification such as the abandonment stage and as a coping strategy, some engaged in criminalized behavior. Carceral displacement facilitates the removal of formerly incarcerated persons from gentrifying neighborhoods. Multiple processes were implicated in this process, including the use of community gardens and crime prevention through environmental design to facilitate both gentrification and carceral neighborhoods. In the quantitative phase of the study, I tested whether neighborhoods experiencing different gentrification stages were associated with increased risk for recidivism. Neighborhoods experiencing abandonment, low-income concentration, and low-income displacement did not have a higher risk of recidivism compared to neighborhoods that were not experiencing any demographic shifts. Neighborhoods experiencing overall growth, that is, where the population was increasing overall, with both upper-income and low-income populations increasing, had higher odds of recidivating. Using another measurement of gentrification, no significant association between gentrification and recidivism was found. More confirmatory research is needed to establish a link between gentrification and recidivism – that is, carceral gentrification, the use of carceral systems to complete the gentrification process. Anti-displacement plans should address the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals in neighborhoods with documented concentrated incarceration. Extensive discussion of the walking interview method is provided, including the value of a researcher self-care plan.

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