The Federation Press

Recapturing Freedom


Recapturing Freedom is about the experience of long-term prisoners as they prepare for release. Dot Goulding shows the connection between the institutionalisation that strips inmates of their identity in order to make them tractable, and their subsequent, all-too-common failure to cope with life on the outside.

Her book is based on extensive in-depth interviews with male and female prisoners. Recurring themes are the relentless surveillance and control to which prisoners are subjected, and the centrality of violence and brutalisation in the prison experience – group violence, sexual violence and, according to the interviewees, violence which is officially sanctioned.

Recapturing Freedom shows why most long-term prisoners find freedom so hard to recapture – physically free but mentally still locked into a subculture of brutality, isolation and deprivation, it is most often prison that recaptures them.

Goulding finishes her book with suggestions on how, taking account of the actual experiences of prisoners, this endless cycle of recidivism might be stopped.


Recapturing Freedom is a sustained and polished piece of work arising from difficult research on a topic of enormous importance. It is a major contribution to understanding why the prison system reproduces criminality and what we might do to change this. - Professor David Brown, University of New South Wales

Table of Contents

Context of the Book
The Prison Experience
Patterns of Surveillance and Control
Violence and Brutality in Prison
Recapturing Freedom?
Reflections, Recommendations, Radical Change
Appendix A - Research Design Doing Qualitative research: understanding the everyday world of the long-term prisoner
Appendix B - Interview Schedule – Preliminary Inside Prison
Appendix C - Interview Schedule – Follow up Post Release

Of interest...