Bales' most recent research investigated the effect of inmate visitation on recidivism. He found that inmates who have visitors are significantly less likely to re-offend after prison release. The more often they have visits and having visits closer to release have a considerable positive effect on successful community re-entry.
His other recent research has examined the contextual characteristics of the locations where prisoners return after release from prison and assessed the effectiveness of electronic monitoring for offenders placed on community supervision.
Bales was recently honored for his work on labeling theory. His paper, along with FSU criminologist Ted Chiricos and recent Ph.D graduates Kelle Barrick and Stephanie Bontrager was selected as the winner of the American Society of Criminology's Outstanding Paper Award. Their paper “The Labeling of Convicted Felons and Its Consequences for Recidivism,” published in Criminology (45: 547–582) showed that convicted felons in Florida who had the formal certification of guilt, “adjudication,” withheld by the sentencing judge, were significantly less likely to recidivate in a two-year follow-up period than those for whom the felony convict label was formally applied. These labeling effects were stronger for those who reached the age of 30 without a prior conviction.
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