Prison Industry and Desistance from Crime: An Australian Programme


Prison industries represent an important component of service delivery for correctional administrations around the world and yet there have been few attempts to articulate the specific role that they play in prisoner reintegration. This article describes the operation of an Australian prison industry programme with a target cohort of Aboriginal male prisoners. Participants were trained in basic construction industry skills, and could also enrol in traineeships leading to Cert III Building Construction or Carpentry. The original programme plan was to build houses for Aboriginal communities, however no housing contracts had been signed so participants were constructing modular prison cells. It identifies key programme characteristics that are thought to be associated with success before applying a desistance framework to understand the mechanisms by which change occurs and identify possible areas for improving efficacy. It is concluded that significant opportunities exist to enhance reintegration outcomes in this type of programme. A cautionary notes explains that care must be taken in applying Western defined concepts of desistance to Indigenous participants.

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