December 21, 2020

On November 10th 2020, the Reintegration Puzzle and After Prison Network hosted ‘Inside Story: the lived experience of how to support people exiting prison’.

During the webinar we heard from individuals who have had varying experiences in the justice system. The panel shared their thoughts on how services can offer the best support to individuals exiting prison to ensure a successful reintegration into the community.                                                    

The speakers were:

How can services assist people leaving the justice system?

  • Maintaining and creating a sense of hope. For many people, prison has impacted their ability to hope and aspire for the future. According to the panel services can maintain or restore people’s sense of hope by sitting and listening, creating occasions for fun, providing opportunities relevant to the aspirations of the individual and building capacity to make goals more achievable. Creating hope helps to build self-worth and improves the outcomes of individuals.
  • Building capacity. Exiting prison can be a traumatic experience in itself as people face challenges adapting to daily life. Services must focus on post-release transitional support to build skills such as cooking, cleaning, making appointments and finding employment that is enjoyable to the individual and therefore more maintainable. Intensive and open-ended mentoring can help to build these capacities.
  • Creating a sense of community and inclusion. Individuals face extreme challenges when reintegrating into the community. The panel highlighted discrimination by the community as one of the most challenging aspects of exiting prison. This is especially prominent when finding employment. Services should aim to support individuals to build relationships within the community as these connections can make people feel included and eliminate the stigma associated with prison.
  • Fostering peer-to-peer mentoring. Providing a role model who has also been through the justice system is a great way to motivate individuals to set and achieve goals. This makes aspirations not only desirable but also demonstrates that they are achievable. Role models can also provide tips and insights into how to navigate potential barriers.
  • Collaboration between services. A myriad of pathways out of the justice system is needed to support this cohort. This involves providing a holistic and multiservice approach to people’s reintegration into the community. Communication between services on how best to support an individual is essential. Services should also prioritise sharing their knowledge on the successes and failures of their interventions to allow for the sector to grow and improve the outcomes of those exiting the justice system.
  • Decolonising interventions. The colonial nature of the justice system and the services available to those exiting prison are contributing to the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the justice system. Providing culturally appropriate services and ensuring that the target audience are aware of these services is essential to addressing this overrepresentation and providing support for culturally specific trauma. This creates the greatest opportunities for healing.

“When people are excluded that’s when hope is lost” – quote by Dean Lloyd

To find out more about the organisations participating in the panel and other work discussed during the event, follow the links below:

Lloyd Criminal Consulting Co. –  Criminal consulting specialists who work to remove the discriminatory barriers people face when released from prison. The organisation provides ethical and supportive employment solutions to individuals to facilitate healthy systemic changes for communities and society.

The Power in You Project – The Power In You Project is a Geelong non-profit organisation helping people affected by alcohol and other drugs to achieve lasting change in their lives. Their purpose is to support participants in taking back control of their lives by reducing or removing their dependencies of substance. The program is the only open-ended day program in Victoria.

Deadly Connections – Deadly Connections is an Aboriginal community Led, not-for-profit organisation that breaks the cycles of disadvantage and trauma to directly address the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the child protection and justice system/s. The program delivers community centred, culturally responsive and holistic programs to build stronger and safer communities.

After Prison Network– is a network of interested organisations, academics, reintegration service providers and individuals who have come together to illuminate and publicise the systemic issues that impact on people when they leave prison across Australia. The network advocates for positive change to criminal justice systems at the state and territory and federal level.

Reintegration Puzzle – The Reintegration Puzzle brings together individuals and organisations who work to successfully reintegrate offenders into the community after prison.