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Over the Hill and Through the Woods: Survey Research with Felon Populations

*Daniel Horn, Bremen International Graduate School of Social Science 

Keywords: prisoners, felon, hard to reach, criminals

The proposed paper is a descriptive analysis of primary research with felon populations in the state of North Carolina. The project uses a self-administered survey compiled from the American National Election Survey, the International Social Survey Programme’s Role of Government IV and Social Inequality V, the International Survey of Economic Attitudes, and original items to assess the political and economic preferences of protected populations which have been politically disenfranchised due to their status as felons. The survey, currently in the field, is administered to prison based populations as well as community supervised populations and uses a mixed methods approach to acquire data. This paper will present findings and lessons gained from surveying populations under strict limitations to project access contrasted and compared to the less strict though harder to reach community supervised populations. The former utilizes a simple self administered survey in booklet format with manual delivery and retrieval, while the latter utilizes a mixed method of delivery – using paper, telephone and internet based approaches. This paper is intended to share first-hand experiences with researchers who must find new and innovative ways to access populations which require a greater attention to bureaucratic arrangements as well as issues of network building in socially excluded groups.

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