Remand Prisoners’ Perceptions of Recovery in Closed Settings [2019]

Objective: Forensic settings offer challenges to traditional recovery approach principles. The aim of this article is to bring out remand prisoners’ needs for personal recovery in closed institutions. The purpose of the research is to explore the reflections of remand prisoners’ experiences and needs for emotional and psychological ways of coping with imprisonment in the context of personal recovery.

Research Design and Methods: Ten people held on remand in prison were interviewed. The semi-structured interview was designed based on the main themes revealed in literature to support the recovery process in secure settings: relationships and connectedness with family and staff, emotional and psychological coping with imprisonment, a secure environment, and involvement in programs and activities. The thematic analysis made it possible to focus on participants’ perceived limitations and opportunities for personal recovery in a closed institution.

Results: Interviewees’ reflections indicated that remand prisoners find it difficult to cope with social isolation, the lack of self-realization and overthinking. Being apart from family and having limited opportunities to communicate creates distress and worry, and culminates in a loss of connectedness. Negative relationships and perceived power differences with staff lead to tensions and create and confirm the identity ‘me as a criminal.’

Conclusion: There is a need to accomplish positive relationships between staff and remand prisoners. Creating more opportunities for prisoners to stay connected with loved ones and offering meaningful activities would lead to remand prisoners having better self-images, less stress, and more hope for the future in their return to society.

Brigitta Õunmaa & Dagmar Narusson
Journal of Recovery in Mental Health, 2(2-3), 2019