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Planning for Precarity? Experiencing the Carceral Continuum of Imprisonment and Reentry

After Imprisonment

ISBN: 978-1-78769-270-1, eISBN: 978-1-78769-269-5

Publication date: 6 November 2018


Drawing on qualitative interviews with formerly imprisoned people in Canada, we show that most prisoners experience reentry into communities with little to no prerelease planning, and must rely upon their own resourcefulness to navigate fragmented social services and often informal supports. In this respect, our research findings contrast with much US punishment and society scholarship that highlights a complex shadow carceral state that extends the reach of incarceration into communities. Our participants expressed a critical analysis of the failure of the prison to address the needs of prisoners for release planning and supports in the community. Our findings concur with other empirical studies that demonstrate the enduring effects of the continuum of carceral violence witnessed and experienced by prisoners after release. Thus, reentry must be understood in relation to the conditions of confinement and the experience of incarceration itself. We conclude that punishment and society scholarship needs to attend to a nuanced understanding of prisoner reentry and connect reentry studies to a wider critique of the prison industrial complex, offering more empirical evidence of the failure of prisons.




We wish to thank the women and men who participated in our research. We are especially grateful to Kelly Struthers-Montford, our research assistants, and other members of the Prison Transparency Project. Thank you to Austin Sarat for inviting this article, and to the anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback. This work is generously supported by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant [no. 890-2014-0034].


Balfour, G., Hannah-Moffat, K. and Turnbull, S. (2018), "Planning for Precarity? Experiencing the Carceral Continuum of Imprisonment and Reentry", After Imprisonment (Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Vol. 77), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 31-48.



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