Exiting prison shouldn’t mean homelessness
5 Aug 2021
People are often overwhelmed by the multitude of complex reintegration issues after being released from prison. Although some post-release support services exist for housing, education, employment, social and health needs, there are far fewer avenues of support for legal needs, and even fewer integrated services.
We know from over six years of frontline work with people in prison through our Closing the Revolving Door Prison Project, without tailored, holistic legal help to resolve these issues, people face a greater likelihood of homelessness and risk of ending up back in prison.
Scoping the holistic legal needs of Victorians exiting prisons
In response to this unmet legal need, we recently completed an evidence-based scoping study, Closing the Revolving Door: Scoping holistic legal needs of Victorians exiting prison, to assess opportunities to provide best-practice, wrap-around legal help for people released from prison.
Read the report
We carried out an in-depth review of the national and international literature, and consulted a range of stakeholders, including people with lived experience of imprisonment, specialist legal services, and post-release support providers.
Some of the key findings were:
- Housing insecurity is a major factor in a person re-entering the prison system.
- People exiting prison face a range of needs – including mental health, legal and employment support – that change significantly over time.
- Legal, housing, education, employment, social and health needs are inter-related, and can have significant flow on effects if left unresolved.
- Engaging in outreach and meeting the specific needs of individuals is needed to help overcome barriers to accessing and engaging with services.
- Integrated service models are critical to identify the holistic needs of people exiting prison, and provide better access to legal support.
Responding to the legal needs of people exiting prison
These insights validate our recommendation to establish a new project to better increase access to integrated legal services and achieve social justice for Victorians on their release from prison.
An integrated project responding to the legal needs of people exiting prison will be particularly significant given the increased pressures caused by COVID-19, and the need for service-based responses to help people reintegrate into the community and prevent homelessness.See our full report and findings