Exploring the implications of ex-offender reentry on family member functioning utilizing the double ABCX model of family stress in a mixed methods approach
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This study used a mixed methods approach to examine family member experiences with ex-offender reentry using the Double ABCX Model of Family Stress, Adjustment and Adaptation (Double ABCX Model) with a sample of family members from the North Texas area. This study had two goals: (1) to test the Double ABCX Model with the targeted population of families of ex-offenders; and, (2) to gain a deeper understanding of how family members process the challenges they face once they learn of the offender's impending release and, then, when the ex-offender is released and rejoins the family. This sample consisted of 23 adult family members (16 females and 7 males) who reported that they had accepted responsibility for the ex-offender following his/her release from prison. From this sample, four groups emerged based upon their relationship with the ex-offender: six spouses, seven parents, seven siblings and three adult children. Qualitative interviews focused on those factors from the Double ABCX Model that describe how the family members dealt initially with the notification that the offender was returning home and, then, how the family members processed and dealt with the ex-offender's actual return over four periods of time (1–5 months, 6–11 month, 12–17 months, and 18–24 months). Quantitative data was gathered on the final factors of the Model to measure family adaptation over time with the Family Crisis Orientation Personal Evaluation Scale (F-COPES) (McCubbin, Olsen & Larsen 1981) and the Family Hardiness Index (FHI) (McCubbin, McCubbin & 1987). A linear regression was used to compare family member scores from both instruments with several variables and a significant relationship was found between the FHI and the relationship of the family member and the length of time since the ex-offender had left prison. While the small sample size limited the generalizability of the study, data produced by the qualitative interviews and the quantitative findings indicate that the Double ABCX Model remains a useful theoretical model for understanding how families adapt and process stressful experiences associated with the ex-offender reentry. This study generated many implications, but among the most important is the need for policy makers, practitioners and clinicians to provide services for families of the ex-offenders both before and after the ex-offender leaves prison. The findings in this study also support the need for additional research to explore the dynamics of ex-offender reentry on adult family members and children using various theoretical methodologies.