Ambiguous Freedom: A Grounded Theoretical Analysis of Life Outside Prison

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Virginia Tech


Prisonization refers to the idea that prisoners assimilate to prison society, import criminogenic characteristics, and are deprived by prison culture. Post-carceral prisonization is the process by which excarcerated prisoners (EXP) are socialized by features of prisonization that persist after release, and which manifest under probation and parole. Post-carceral prisonization occurs as a result of stigma and discrimination and a lack of access to crucial resources like employment, housing, and prosocial ties. EXPs make a decision to change their lives during or immediately following release from prison or jail, usually accompanied by a spiritual or religious change. EXPs seek to reform identities constructed both by years of incarceration and by their experiences with "prison satellites" which are prisonization agents that emerge after release. Hindered by a loss of social, economic, and material assets, the threat of sudden and unexplainable incarceration, and lifelong criminal stigma, EXPs endeavor to positively reform their identities and their lives.



Post-carceral prisonization, excarcerated prisoners, ambiguous freedom