Document Type

Theses, Ph.D


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Social sciences, Penelogy

Publication Details

Technological University Dublin, 2016.


Notwithstanding prison populations generally being characterised by a high degree of marginalisation and socio-economic disadvantage –– the concept of reintegration pertains to the notion that prisoners eventually return to the community to live crimefree and productive lives. That so many are outside the realm of mainstream society, it can be argued that to expect prisoners to “reintegrate” back into society poses somewhat of a conundrum –– as most were never fully integrated into society to begin with. Using an interpretive phenomenological approach this thesis investigates the experience of reintegration in a small city (population = 119,230) from in-depth interviews with 54 former prisoners, aged 19-63 years old, who at the time of the research were living in Cork, Ireland. The predominant feature of the research group was one of extreme marginalisation that included a high level of homelessness and unemployment compounded by alcohol and/or drugs misuse and poor mental health. Few, if any studies have captured the detail of former prisoners embarking on the journey of reintegration against the backdrop of such alienation and social exclusion. While the thesis exposes obstacles to reintegration specifically within a local context it goes further by identifying the meaning inherent within the barriers and challenges former prisoners encounter as well as the significance they attach to the type of support that benefits them as they attempt to rebuild their lives. Key findings in the thesis include a range of psychosocial readjustment problems that emerge following the release from prison thereby providing a nuanced understanding of the process of reintegration as a psychological one. The thesis further provides detailed insights into the diversity of supports required by prisoners in preparation for reintegration and following their release from prison.