Successful prisoner reentry: an analysis of the most important variables

Anna Wilson

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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Prisoner reentry is becomingly increasingly recognised as a significant societal problem. Almost all prisoners will be released will reenter the community and many will reoffend. Internationally, imprisonment rates continue to rise, compounding the challenge to the criminal justice system that the current system of incarceration and reentry creates. Gaps remain in our understanding of the reentry process and the challenges faced by released prisoners. Previous reentry research has tended to focus on specific issues such as accommodation or employment or have used prisoner interviews as the data source. The gaps in reentry literature are compounded by conflicting definitions of 'successful' reentry. Research was undertaken to examine the definition of 'successful reentry' and to determine the most important variables deemed to affect successful prisoner reentry. Semi structured interviews were conducted with twenty‐four stakeholders with a variety of roles in prisoner reentry in Western Australia. Additional data was collected from published government reports, policy documents, research reports and academic literature. The interview findings determined that accommodation, employment, social networks and education and treatment programs were deemed to have the most significant impact on prisoner reentry. One of the most significant findings to emerge is the significance of social networks. This study has found evidence that the value of social networks has been neglected in reentry policy. One of the core issues examined throughout this process was the definition of 'successful reentry'. The term 'successful reentry' requires clarification, alongside elucidation of related goals and measurements. Measures of reentry 'success' need to be developed further or ameliorated by additional criterion as successful reentry is a more complex problem than existing recidivism measures can address. This thesis challenges the existing understanding of the needs of prisoners reentering the community and suggests strategies for improving the reentry process and related outcomes. Future reentry policy needs to give greater weight to the value of social networks and establish mechanisms to facilitate the development and maintenance of these networks, which will in turn, assist prisoners to secure accommodation and employment opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2008


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