Prisoner Re-Entry in Cape Town – An Exploratory Study

Every month in South Africa approximately 6000 sentenced prisoners are released, some on parole and some on expiry of sentence. After serving their prison sentences it is society’s expectation that they will refrain from committing crime and be productive citizens. They are expected to find employment, rebuild relationships with their families and communities, and cease from engaging in certain activities and avoiding the risks that caused their imprisonment in the first instance. Unfortunately, it is the case that many released prisoners commit further offences and find their way back to prison, some in a remarkably short period of time while others return after several years. This study is concerned with the immediate post-release period and asked a very simple question: “What happens to people immediately after they have been released from prison?” The question is aimed at gaining a deeper and empirical understanding of what prisoner re-entry and reintegration into society mean and what the obstacles are to successful reintegration. When people’s lives have effectively been put on hold for several months or years, how do they pick up the strings where they had left them, if there are indeed strings to pick up?
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