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The revolving door of reintegration: Understanding the experiences and challenges of previously incarcerated people in Ontario

The John Howard Society of Ontario, is conducting a study in collaboration with McMaster University with funding from Mitacs. Through this collaboration, Alysha McDonald, a Mitacs Accelerate fellow and Ph.D. Candidate, is exploring people’s lived experiences transitioning from incarceration to the community, with a particular focus on the role of service providers and support networks during reintegration. This project directly addresses the Ministry of Solicitor General’s 2022 commitment to improving the reintegration experiences of justice-involved people.

This research uses in-depth qualitative interviews with previously incarcerated people and service providers along with secondary data to:

  • Identify previously incarcerated people’s needs during reintegration, and the barriers and challenges they face in fulfilling these needs;
  • Understand the role of reintegrative services and supports, or lack thereof, in shaping previously incarcerated people’s experiences with reintegration;
  • Explore how previously incarcerated people understand and navigate reintegration as a relational process and;
  • Pinpoint how reintegrative needs, challenges, and barriers differ depending on sentence type, race, ethnicity, Indigenous status, social class, and geographic environment.

The study aims to produce evidence-based research that can advise programs/services in the community and/or correctional facilities, contribute to reintegration related policy, and provide public education on this transitional phase. The research will benefit previously incarcerated people and communities in Ontario by better supporting justice-involved people as they transition from incarceration to the community.

Research Team:

Alysha McDonald, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, McMaster University

Luca Berardi, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, McMaster University

Reza Ahmadi, Director of Research & Evaluation, John Howard Society of Ontario

Meaghan Costa, Research & Evaluation Specialist, John Howard Society of Ontario

Hannah Cook, Research & Evaluation Analyst, John Howard Society of Ontario