The myth of community reintegration? A study of the lifeworld of released prisoners during theri processes of reentry and reintegration

Project Details


Moving from prison, an institution of total control, to the often chaotic environment of modern life is a powerful transition (Visher & Travis: 2003:107). The existing research on released prisoners (and post-release interventions) is mostly public safety oriented, through a  crime-free  looking glass, evaluating effects on recidivism rates (e.g. Borzycki, 2005; Burnett & Maruna, 2006; Travis et al., 2002). Released prisoners are often reduced to a statistical number and analyzed by a deficiency (deficit models) approach, described by Maruna and LeBel (2002) as  risk-based  and  need-based . Meeting the (community - state)  needs  becomes little more than provision of checks and forms of social control (Burnett & Maruna, 2006). There is a lack of research on the processes involved in the reentry, due to  the absence of any awareness of the broader aspects of the reentry problem; a general blindness that seems to be related to formal and informal societal conceptions of the ex-convict  (Irwin, 1970:109). Instead of focusing on the criminogenic needs or the means to fulfill these needs (e.g. education, work), this proposal looks at the transition as a dynamic social process of (re)attaching or (re)connecting through multiple role-identies, where the released prisoner tries to meet  basic human needs  (e.g. understanding, affection, participation, leisure, identity and freedom) as defined by Max-Neef (1992) and included in the  Quality of Life  approach of Costanza et al. (2007). The ability to satisfy these needs comes from the opportunities available (cf.  social quality model : Beck, Van der Maesen & Walker, 1997) and constructed from social, built, human and natural capital (and time), which can be addressed through experiences in different life domains (Costanza et al. 2007). This  quality of life  looking glass stands for a holistic view of the needs and processes, accessed through the lifeworld of the released prisoners. Maruna et al. (2006) stress the importance of life narratives, including released prisoners and giving them a voice, to gain a better understanding of their struggle to reconnect. This proposal therefore aims to generate insights into the lived experiences of released prisoners, to explore and explain how they make sense of their selves through engagement with the social world.
Effective start/end date1/01/1031/12/13

Flemish discipline codes

  • Psychology and cognitive sciences


  • non-profit organisations
  • talent management
  • rating scales
  • sleep
  • attention
  • social neuroscience
  • implicit learning