This article describes an interview-based study of the effects of long-term imprisonment upon 18 Republican ex-prisoners and their families. The interviews followed a biographical, narrative format, drawing from experience of psychiatric assessment of released long-term prisoners. Interpretation of the material was influenced by the sociological literature on imprisonment effects and war trauma. The ex-prisoners had spent an average of 11 years in custody. They described complex experiences of loss, psychological change and social integration, particularly in the area of employment. A decade after release some still had vivid difficulties in coming to terms with the losses of the past and finding purpose for the future. There were parallels between the experiences of this goup and those of war veterans returning home. There is insufficient recognition of these phenomena in previous research on the psychological effects of imprisonment.
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|Published - Jan 2003