High hopes: Supporting ex-prisoners in their lives after prison


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This report presents the findings from an exploratory qualitative study that centres on a key Department for Work and Pensions client group that until now has not been extensively researched in terms of its interaction with benefit and employment services and the labour market. It focuses on a cohort of 40 (male) ex-prisoners who were tracked over a six-month period following their release from prison.

The first interviews took place just prior to release. Follow-up interviews took place at three months and six months postrelease. Whilst this research includes the views of service providers, it does not evaluate their services.

The report explores ex-prisoners' attitudes and expectations of work, their barriers to work and follows the transitions they made between employment and unemployment. It explores their experiences of housing and substance misuse on release, which although not intended to be a main focus of the research, were key issues raised by ex-prisoners. How ex-prisoners managed the financial transition from prison back into the community and ex-prisoners' interactions with, and views of, service providers are also covered.

Ultimately, the purpose of this report is to inform the provision of services to ex-prisoners by Jobcentre Plus and other agencies, to improve employment outcomes for ex-prisoners and help reduce re-offending. The research commenced in February 2005 and was completed in February 2008.

Yvette Hartfree
Chris Dearden
Elspeth Pound
Department for Work and Pensions