Improving Reentry from the Inside

Today, I attended the International Corrections and Prisons Association (ICPA) Webinar: “Reducing Reoffending and Enabling Reintegration”, with Professor Fergus McNeill of the University of Glasgow, Scotland.  This talk was scheduled for presentation at the UN Crime Prevention Congress in Kyoto in April 2020, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Professor McNeill argued that, in order to reduce re-offending, it is crucial to enable reintegration and in fact, this should be a core function of penal systems.  However, these systems are often unsupportive of integration in their approaches and practices. After reviewing the research of RNR, Desistance, and Good Lives Model, he explored the implications for rethinking our approaches to prisons, probation and other services.

Professor McNeill discussed how, or if, prisons might be considered rehabilitative (Jewkes & Gooch, 2019) and also the five dimensions of prison quality that are extremely important to reintegration success (Liebling 2020).  Curious?  The dimensions identified by Liebling are harmony, humanity, staff professionalism, help/assistance, and organization/consistency.  In fact, studies show that focusing on these areas within prisons increases personal development as well as decreases measures of misconduct. 

There are also excellent examples of programs already underway that support successful reintegration. Projects you can learn more about from across the globe are:

  • Norway – Reintegration Guarantees 
  • Singapore – Yellow Ribbon Project
  • Scotland – Distant Voices
  • Japan – Mobilizing Volunteers

One of the key notes to remember for successful reentry is that transformation can best occur when working with people as ‘individuals with promise’ rather than as those who have been negatively labeled.  I encourage everyone to read more about these amazing programs and study the research so that we may continue to improve our reintegration services. 

Joining the ICPA would also be a wonderful step as members can access their library and see/hear Professor McNeill’s entire presentation! 

Let’s keep learning~