Australia sees approximately 44,0001 persons released from prison each year. That number is increasing in most States. Prisoners (and therefore ex-prisoners) as a group have high levels of very poor education, unemployment, mental and intellectual disabilities, poverty and alcohol and other drug problems making them amongst the most disadvantaged persons in Australia. A majority eventually is re-incarcerated indicating that most ex-prisoners are not rehabilitated by their prison term and are able to integrate into society once released from prison.
The prison treadmill is socially and financially very expensive for the ex-prisoner and society, and thus finding out how to increase an ex-prisoner’s chances of making a successful transition is highly desirable. There is evidence from international studies indicating that suitable housing is a crucial factor in prison releasees making a successful transition from prison to the broader society. Very little research has been done in Australia on this matter, but with the increasing imprisonment rate, it is of growing policy and practice interest to the State and citizens.
The research project “Ex-prisoners and accommodation” set out to explore connections between accommodation and allied social matters, and ex-prisoners’ social experiences and social integration post-release. It was conducted between mid 2001 and early 2003, with the data being gathered between November 2001 and January 2003. Questions covered housing and social experiences prior to incarceration and at the three points post-release. Participants were also asked about why they thought things had gone as they had as well as being given the opportunity to comment on any aspect of their post-release housing and support experiences.