Perspectives of service providers on program churn and its impacts on persons exiting prison

Ms Ebba Herrlander Birgerson1

1University Of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

This presentation describes the consequences of program churn on persons exiting prison, service providers, and society. Program churn in this context refers to the funding of a successful transitional support program for people exiting prison for a limited time, the defunding of said program, and the reinstitution of a new program some time after the defunding of the first program. The impacts of this type of churn will be illustrated through an analysis of interview data with service providers linked with a Tasmanian case study, where the dissolution of the Reintegration for Ex-Offenders’ (REO) program and its extension – the Intensive Tenancy Support Services – in 2016 culminated Tasmania’s program churn after close to thirteen years of different transitional support programs. This case study project examined the impact of defunding the REO program on service providers and people exiting prison from the perspective of service providers. Program churn emerged as an unexpected key theme in the discussion of these issues with the interviewees. This paper will therefore overview what occurred in the interim between programs, the underlying factors to program churn – such as the start/stop nature of funding – and what would contribute to future sustainability of reintegration programs. The paper concludes to show that program churn has profound consequences on service availability and accessibility, incarcerated persons and service providers, as well as impacts on a larger societal level.


Ebba Herrlander Birgerson is a researcher with the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies at the University of Tasmania. She holds a Master in Police Studies from the University of Tasmania, and a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice from Griffith University, where she received a Griffith Award for Academic Excellence in 2015. Her research interests focus on reintegration and the factors that impact the success of people returning from prison, but also in ‘what works’ in criminal justice and what kind of system we should strive towards.


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