For any prisoner, the return to the community at the end of a sentence is a time charged with tension and anxiety. An estimated 30,000 prisoners return to the community every year in Australia (Borzycki & Baldry, 2003). The resettlement process is a stressful and potentially fraught event, because there are a number of hazards and obstacles for ex-prisoners. In some cases, the problems returning prisoners face can be anticipated and alleviated to an extent by the assistance provided by support programs initiated inside the prison. But in other cases, for those without financial or domestic supports or life skills, there is a chance of a relapse into re-offending (Jones, Hua, Donnelly, McHutchison & Heggie, 2006) and the beginning of the cycle of recidivism.
The purpose of this project was to gather reliable and current data on the main problems and fears experienced by prisoners returning to the community. The project focussed on prisoners from the male medium security Acacia Prison, Western Australia, who are already involved in a Resettlement Program initiated by the prison. Many of the concerns of the participants in the Resettlement Programs are well-known to the staff, but there are some matters which prisoners are reluctant to disclose to resettlement staff. It was reasoned that a face-to-face discussion with an impartial and independent interviewer would allow an opportunity for these matters to be discussed. The goals for the prison are to make comparisons with previously gathered data to identify the most effective programs; to modify or rework others; and to provide information for the design of new ones.
January 2010 - December 2012
In collaboration with The Department of Corrective Services
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