Life after Prison - Gender Differences in the Perceived Needs and Barriers of Prisoners Preparing for Reentry

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Seminar 52 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Silvia GOMES, University of Minho, Portugal
Prisoner reentry is a complex and multifaceted problem. Studies suggest (i) those reentering the community are failing at fairly high rates in not perpetrating crime; (ii) punishment alone fails to change the individual and structural barriers faced by many ex-prisoners; (iii) reentry affects crime, and has social, political, and economic consequences for individuals, families and entire communities. In what concerns the prisoner itself, the stigma associated with the criminal past, as well as the social networks to access to social capital resources, significantly affects his/her reintegration after prison, and these difficulties ultimately also affect public safety. Social capital and social networks produce and reproduce existing social inequalities.

Knowing that understanding how prisoners perceive their lives and the potential opportunities and constraints within their environments can provide important insight into their future involvement with crime, this paper aims to explore expectations and perceptions about the reentry process, through the views of women and men who are about to finish their prison sentences. Based on 45 interviews with male and female prisoners in two Portuguese central prisons, gender differences will be analyzed regarding both the expectations and perceptions of these prisoners towards the role of the prison in preparing them while inside prison walls, and the social factors considered relevant for their reentry process on the outside, such as family, employment, education, housing and peers. At the end, it will be discussed the gender specificities and convergences on the needs and barriers of the reentry process; and, consequently, what can possibly trigger recidivism in both groups.