“Out here I’m not living”: The challenges of staying on “the straight and narrow” post release in New Zealand

Dr Bronwyn Morrison1, Ms Jill Bowman1
1Department Of Corrections, Northland, New Zealand

In 2017, there were over 8,900 people released from New Zealand prisons. Of these, almost one fifth had spent at least 12 months in prison. On average, almost half of those released from prison reoffend within 12 months of their release, with the majority doing so within the first six months after leaving prison. To better understand what helps and hinders people to “go straight” following release, the Department of Corrections completed a small-scale longitudinal study in which 127 prisoners were interviewed a month prior to release. Of these, 97 were subsequently re-interviewed four to six months post release, and 38 were interviewed a third time a year following their original release. A striking finding from the research was the considerable challenges these people faced in pursuit of a “white-picket fence-kind-of-lifestyle” and the fact that, whilst not necessarily “getting on”, most were nevertheless “hanging in there” and desisting in the face of (often considerable) adversity. Drawing on all three rounds of interviews, this paper will discuss the key challenges people faced in “going straight”, how these were overcome, and with what effect. In doing so, it will consider the role “desistance identities” played in mitigating the “pains of desistance”, and identify the implications of this for future reintegration support and service delivery.


Bronwyn Morrison has a Ph.D in Criminology from Keele University, UK. She has worked in government research roles in New Zealand since 2005 and has worked for the Department of Conservation, New Zealand Police, and the Ministry of Justice. She joined Corrections’ Research and Analysis team in 2015 as a Principal Research Adviser. Bronwyn has conducted research on women, alcohol and crime, vehicle crime, bias in the criminal justice system, fear of crime and victimisation, family violence perpetrators, remand prisoners, and prisoners’ post-release experiences.

Jill Bowman has worked in Corrections’ Research and Analysis team for seven years following a variety of roles in both the private and public sector. She also volunteers at Arohata Women’s Prison, teaching quilting to women in the Drug Treatment Unit. Jill has conducted research on mental health and substance abuse comorbidity in prisoners, mental health services in women’s prisons, post release experiences of prisoners, and prisoners’ methamphetamine use and treatment experiences.

Resisting the Politics of Punishment: Political Culture and the Evolution of Canadian Criminal Justice Policy

Dr Kyle Mulrooney1
1The University Of New England, Armidale, Australia

Canada, long upheld as an exception to the wider penal turn said to have occurred in many western liberal democracies, saw a complete shift in thinking and action around crime control towards more punitive ends under the rule of the new Conservative Party of Canada between 2006-2015. Yet, during this time the prison population did not rise appreciably and there was no discernible difference in public opinion towards harsher punishment. Furthermore, the Conservatives constituted only one voice among many as there were loud pockets of resistance to this ‘new punitiveness’, especially in the media and legal spheres. Finally, with the election of the Liberal government on 2015 it would appear that the country has resumed pursuing its ‘moderate’ approach to crime and punishment. This decade of Conservative power, therefore, provides the ideal case study from which to explore what drives and affects penal change and, in this instance, the necessary factors and conditions behind the varying ‘success’ of penal populism as a governing strategy. To this end, the research sets out to explain this resistance by examining the ways in which the countries local history, deep-seated cultural values and national institutional settings and symbols have worked to shape the jurisdictions political and, by extension, penal culture. In doing so, the research contributes to our understanding of the ways in which a jurisdictions political culture may shape public and political appetites for punishment by acting as barrier, modifier or amplifier of populist politics more generally.


Dr. Kyle Mulrooney is a lecturer in Criminology at the University of New England. His primary research area is the Sociology of punishment, with particular attention to the nexus between penal populism and political culture. He is also interested in the use, supply, and regulation of enhancement drugs. Kyle holds a Ph.D. in Cultural and Global Criminology from the University of Kent and Universität Hamburg, an MA in the Sociology of Law from the International Institute for the Sociology of Law and a BA (Honours) in Criminology and Justice from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.


Reducing the prison population: The challenge of pretrial services

Max Travers, Rick Sarre, Isabelle Bartkowiak-Theron, Christine Bond, Emma Colvin, Andrew Day
1University Of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, 2University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia, 3University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, 4Griffiths University, Brisbane, Australia, 5Charles Sturt University, Albury-Wodonga, Australia, 6James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

Despite the concerns of criminologists and many practitioners, states in Australia are investing in new prisons, instead of diversion, in response to a growing prison population.  But at the same time, counter-initiatives that do not usually receive much public attention, have achieved some success.   In this paper, we will consider the contemporary bail reform movement internationally and in Australia.   Employing quantitative and qualitative methods, we will describe some aspects of bail decision-making in the four states of Tasmania, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. We will also consider the political forces that have resulted in integrated pretrial programs in Victoria, but prevented their development in other states.  Are such programs potentially transformative or will they only have a limited impact on the continued growth of the prison?

Max Travers is Senior Lecturer in the School of Sociology and Social Work, University of Tasmania.   He qualified as a solicitor before completing a doctorate at the University of Manchester, UK examining the practical work of criminal lawyers.  Publications include The Reality of Law (1997), The British Immigration Courts  (1999) and The Sentencing of Children (2012).   He is currently working on a project with five co-investigators about bail decision-making and pretrial services, funded by the Criminological Research Council.

Impacts of Defunding Tasmania’s Reintegration for Ex-Offenders Program

Ebba Herrlander1
1University Of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

Homelessness, and low socioeconomic status, are factors heavily influencing the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-inmates, and the stress of unstable housing may lead to survival offending, and drug and alcohol dependency (Payne, Macgregor, & McDonald, 2015). Research show that inmates are less likely to own their own home, and more likely to rely on housing authorities, and public housing, and that inadequate accommodation is strongly associated with re-offending (Baldry, McDonnel, Maplestone, & Peeters, 2003; Baldry, 2010). The lack of housing for ex-inmates impacts their eligibility for early release, and parole, which further contributes to prison overcrowding and prison-related costs. This presentation will overview a research project focused on documenting the impact of defunding the Tasmanian accommodation and transitional support program ‘Reintegration for Ex-Offenders’ in 2015, run by the Salvation Army. The ‘Reintegration for Ex-Offenders’ program offered accommodation services, alongside a case plan tailored to individual needs, such as budgeting, education, and employment. It provided support for alcohol and drug dependency, mental health issues, and sought to increase participants’ self-esteem and establish a positive outlook on the future. The research project discussed in this presentation will conduct qualitative, semi-structured interviews with service providers associated and/or involved with the program. Given that an independent evaluation concluded a significantly reduced recidivism rate of 6.5%, compared to the usual rate of 46% (Lloyd, Stafford, & Gabriel, 2013), the research project aims to document the gaps and impacts of the program’s dissolution, to hopefully provide a platform of discussion for future policy implications.

Ms Ebba Herrlander Birgerson is a Master of Police Studies student at the University of Tasmania, focusing on the reintegration and rehabilitation of ex-offenders. She has previously completed a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University, Brisbane, and received a Griffith Award for Academic Excellence in 2015 which recognises consistent academic achievement with a GPA of 6.0 or greater, placing her in the top 5% of students. Whilst at Griffith University, she assisted Dr Danielle Reynald in her research project ‘Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in Australia: The Victim’s Perspective’. She has worked with the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies evaluating a Tasmanian Police project trialling electronic monitoring for high risk family violence offenders. She is currently working with Dr Angela Dwyer, Dr Bianca Fileborn, and Dr Matthew Ball on a project examining how LGBTIQ young people are involved in family violence, and on a project with Dr Nicole Asquith, Dr Angela Dwyer, and Dr Jeffrey Thomas, investigating how LGBTIQ young people come to be in flexi schools.


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