Reautonomising: Shaping the Passage of Parole

Susanne Frost

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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     When prisoners are released to the community on parole, they enter a controlled and contingent passage of their lives which affords them conditional citizen status until their sentence expires. Parole in New South Wales (NSW), Australia has two functions: to protect the public by monitoring parolees for compliance with court and parole orders, and to provide support for their community reintegration. Given that a large proportion of parolees return to prison for breaching their parole, an examination of their re-entry experience is warranted in light of the emphasis on risk management and its role in recidivism reduction. The assessment, calculation and management of the risk of recidivism in the offender population remain as the central organising features of the supervision of parolees in the community. The research aim was to explore the experiences of prisoners released to the community on parole and to explain how they managed ascribed risk in the first six months of re-entry. Fourteen parolees were interviewed in four regional NSW locations as they re-entered the community, and again approximately six months later. Data from twenty four in-depth interviews was analysed using the classic grounded theory method developed by Glaser & Strauss (1967) to discover the concern of the parolees and to develop a substantive theory explaining how they resolved their concern. As a result of the systematic analytical procedures of the grounded theory method, the central concern of the parolees to restore a felt sense of autonomy in their lives was conceptualised as reautonomising. The substantive theory of Reautonomising: Shaping the Passage of Parole explained the resolving behaviour of the participants as a pervasive basic social process which varied with conditions and changes over time. In this study, the process of reautonomising was defined by three discernible stages: orientating to the passage of parole, manoeuvring to optimise autonomy and sustaining autonomy. Each stage of the process involved the interaction of social-psychological and social-structural processes, thus shaping the way the participants in the study experienced their trajectory through the passage of parole. Although managing ascribed risk did not emerge as the main concern of the participants in the study, the behaviours employed by them in their attempts to reautonomise revealed how risks were perceived, situated and managed in the first six months of their time on parole.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Jennett, Christine, Principal Supervisor
    Award date22 Mar 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


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