The annual cost of imprisonment in Australia is $100,000 per inmate, and challenges associated with release from prison and subsequent reincarceration are a major ongoing problem as the national prison population grows to unprecedented levels. People with a history of injecting drug use (PWID) are a key population to examine given they constitute up to 58% of the prisoner population and report extremely high reincarceration rates. Interventions that can reduce reincarceration among PWID are therefore urgently needed.
The transition from prison to the community offers a key intervention point, yet the lack of research examining inmates’ experiences negotiating the complex post-release world in which health, social and criminogenic factors intersect, and which unpacks the trajectory of release-from-prison to return-to-prison, impedes the development of effective policies and interventions. This project uses a sophisticated qualitative research method to examine the lived experience of ex-prisoners who inject drugs to capture the inter-relationships between ex-prisoners’ multi-faceted needs. The results are directly applicable to understanding how in-prison and post-release health and other support programs can support ex-prisoners to achieve better outcomes on health, well-being, social and criminogenic measures, particularly recidivism. In-depth interviews examined the perceived health and social needs, informal strategies adopted and health/social services utilised by participants, and novel research dissemination tools were used to translate these findings.
Aims of the project:
- Identify the health-related needs of ex-prisoners who inject drugs
- Identify the strategies, resources and services used by these ex-prisoners since release to manage their health needs
- Examine the ways in which key health and social variables (injecting drug use and housing status in particular) affect the needs expressed by and resources available to ex-prisoner
- Identify crucial intervention opportunities to promote the health and well-being of people released from prison in the post-release period and affect change in recidivism