Previous research suggests that social relations, in particular the forming of family ties and employment (social factors), self-efficacy (personal factors), and therapeutic interventions (institutional factors) constitute main contributors in post-release success. These studies, however, have largely been based on general delinquents serving relatively short prison terms. This study aims to shed light on the influence of social, personal, and institutional factors on post-release success versus
failure among paroled lifers.
We conducted in-depth life-history interviews with 64 individuals who had served a life sentence, who were either re-incarcerated for another crime or parole violation, or were currently out on parole. The role of social factors in desistance among long-term incarcerated offenders was minimal. Rather, self-efficacy appeared to be a key element in post-release success. These findings suggest that research based on short-term incarcerated offenders cannot be directly translated to long-term incarcerated offenders. This group does not experience the same traditional turning points, such as establishing family ties and employment. Accordingly, long-term prisoners may go through a different process post-release that determines their success versus
failure compared to general delinquents who serve shorter sentences.
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