Nuances of fragmentation, (mis)recognition and closeness: Narratives of challenges and support during resettlement

Published date01 January 2024
AuthorSylvia Koffeld-Hamidane,Marguerite Schinkel,Ellen Andvig,Bengt Karlsson
Date01 January 2024
Subject MatterArticles
Nuances of fragmentation,
(mis)recognition and
closeness: Narratives of
challenges and support
during resettlement
Sylvia Koffeld-Hamidane
University of South-Eastern Norway, Norway
Marguerite Schinkel
University of Glasgow, UK
Ellen Andvig, and Bengt Karlsson
University of South-Eastern Norway, Norway
The transition from p rison to society te nds to be tough and pai nful for people in
resettlement and challenging to facilitate for professionals. The Norwegian
Correctional Ser vices aim for a cont inuous reentr y focus throughout the prison sen-
tence. Norway has been presented as one of the Nordic exceptional penal states,
partly based on the encouraging pattern of off‌icer-inmate interactions. However,
this exceptional picture has been criticized for paying more attention to discourse
than to lived experiences. As newly released personsexperiences of interaction
and relationships with staff and of how th ese facilitate an d frustrate their ree ntry
processes have largely been ignored, this article draws attention to their perspec-
tives. Inspired by narrative analysis, in cooperation with persons with lived experi-
ence, we constructed three stories of challenges and support during resettlement.
Through these in-depth presentations of frustrating misrecognition, ignorance and
fragmentation , but also of closenes s, continuity, recognition, b elonging and de-st igma-
tization, this st udy provides import ant insights into how interaction and relationships
Corresponding author:
Sylvia Koffeld-Hamidane, Center of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, University of Southeastern Norway,
3045 Drammen, Norway.
Punishment & Society
2024, Vol. 26(1) 187207
© The Author(s) 2023
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/14624745231203961
with staff enable and constrain reentry to society. By bringing lived experience into
the discourse of Nordic exceptionalism, this article adds valuable perspectives to this
still ongoing de bate. Overall, we a rgue for a revitaliz ation of the prima ry off‌icer role
and a broader approach to resettlement to facilitate support throughout the prison
lived experience, resettlement, staff support, Nordic penal exceptionalism, narrative
The transitional phase from prison to society tends to be tough and painful for people in
resettlement and challenging to facilitate for professionals. In light of this, improvement
of resettlement practice has been discussed in several European countries (Dünkel et al.,
2019). The prison and probation services aim to prepare people for crime-free lives
through a continuous focus on throughcare and a gradual transition to the community
(Dünkel and Weber, 2019; Pruin, 2019). Despite these intentions, reentry assistance is
often fragmented and distanced (Cracknell, 2020; Dominey, 2019; Koffeld-Hamidane
et al., 2023; Robinson, 2005). Drawing upon narratives of newly released persons in
Norway, this article aims to explore experiences of the impact of staff on challenges
and support during resettlement.
Literature on staff impact during resettlement
Previous research illustrates how prison and probation staff, by treating resettling
people as human beings, going beyond their work duties, and including people in some-
thing meaningful, promote feelings of normality, worth and belonging. To be treated as
a human being involved being respected, accepted and recognized as more than the
crime one had committed (OSullivan et al., 2020). These experiences are often
related to special units or prisons based on programmes with particular aims, such as
peer mentoring (Einat, 2017; OSullivan et al., 2020) and treatment or rehabilitation
more generally (Blagden et al., 2016; Giertsen et al., 2015). Staff who saw participants
as individuals, trusted in them and believed they could change, characterized the social
climate in some of these units (Blagden et al., 2016; Collica-Cox, 2018). Blagden et al.
(2016) and Meek and Lewis (2014) highlighted how recognizing positive changes and
ref‌lecting them back to the participants galvanized commitment to their personal change
process. This also counteracted stigma and feelings of humiliation (Stone et al., 2018).
Recognition and appraisal of participantsdesire for and movement towards rehabilita-
tion and desistance helped them gain conf‌idence to maintain crime-free lives and pro-
social identities as non-offenders (Doekhie et al., 2018: 509). Experiences of being
188 Punishment & Society 26(1)

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