Derek Kreager & Gary Zajac
Penn State University

Dana Haynie
Ohio State University

David Schaefer & Jacob Young
Arizona State University

Martin Bouchard
Simon Fraser University

A long line of sociological research links social integration to individual health benefits over the life course. It is therefore unsurprising that many treatment programs seek to leverage group cohesion and peer influence processes to promote positive behavioral change. Therapeutic Communities (TCs) are group-based residential treatment programs that have proven particularly effective at reducing drug dependence within prison contexts. Stemming from self-help programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, prison TCs prioritize “the community as method” and rely on inmate-to-inmate role-modeling, monitoring, and reinforcement to create positive identity change and increase treatment engagement. Although program evaluations demonstrate the overall effectiveness of TCs for inmate health, the peer-network processes underlying TC programming remain virtually untested.  To fill this gap, we outline a research agenda that applies theory, concepts, and methods of network science to understand prison TC processes. We conclude by demonstrating the feasibility and promise of a TC network approach by presenting preliminary findings from a cross-sectional study of a small TC (n=22) in a maximum-security men’s prison.