Author ORCID Identifier

Document Type



5.5 LAW, Law, Criminology, Penelogy, Social sciences, Interdisciplinary

Publication Details

Albert (2023) “Social workers by day and terrorists by night?” Wounded healers, restorative justice, and ex-prisoner reentry. Punishment & Society.


Common to many post-conflict societies, former political prisoners and combatants in Northern Ireland are often portrayed as security threats rather than as potential contributors to societal peacebuilding processes. This distrust limits their ability to contribute to the transitional landscape and additionally hinders desistance processes during their reentry from prison. Drawing from the work of Maruna, LeBel, and others on “wounded healers,” this article critically examines the restorative justice work of ex-prisoners who have become involved in leadership roles within community based restorative justice. It is argued that such practitioner work can help former combatants overcome many of the challenges typically associated with reentry, contributing to a “strength-based” approach to desistance, impacting factors such as employment, social bonds, internal narratives, and agency. This work also enables individuals to showcase their desistance to others, highlighting their “earned redemption” and encouraging society to acknowledge that reentry is a two-way street.



Queen's University Belfast

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.