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Abstract

The field of prisoner reentry is complex organizational field, in that it is permeable to outside political influence and shaped by the various actors and organizations that together comprise it. However, organizational variation within the field that accompanies such political complexity and is embodied in organizations’ interactions, has been largely overlooked. Therefore, to better understand reentry organizing, this thesis brings the concept of organizational hybridity as used in social movement organizations literature into the analysis of contemporary reentry politics. I introduce the concept to examine disparities within the field, as black-led community-based organizations appear most often excluded from formal avenues of influence. I use data from reentry staff interviews, multi-organization meetings, and organizational documents to first demonstrate that the reentry field is fraught with three central tensions regarding resource procurement, legitimacy-building, and goal attainment and illustrate how reentry organizations with a “hybrid form” experience these tensions to a heightened degree. Then, I discuss how the “hybrid” organizations tend to these tensions using strategies falling under two umbrellas: coalition-building, and strategic communication. Ultimately, my findings provide evidence for recognizing the capacities of non-state reentry organizations to carry out transformational change, despite the structural constraints of a formal organizational context.

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