The experience of prison in Ireland has been one of building expansion at the cost of any real investment in rehabilitative or re-integrative measures.
A ‘typical’ prisoner in Ireland is broadly similar to those in the rest of the Western world; young, urban, undereducated males from the lower socio- economic classes - dependent on alcohol or opiate drugs, with psychiatric problems from disturbed family backgrounds. Imprisonment does little to re-integrate those who are already marginalised.
This paper reports on a two year ethnographic study that followed 200 Irish prisoners from two prisons as they engaged with a new mentoring programme that attempted to reintegrate them into community. A key finding is how acts of forgiveness (self forgiveness and forgiveness by the community) are core to building and bridging the reintegration of ex-prisoners.
Prison Experiences of Self Forgiveness emerged through careful re-readings of the prisoner and ex prisoner stories. This paper suggests evidence that Forgiveness is a two way process which is deeply important to the experience of (ex)-prisoners’ narratives of redemption, and the associated rewards of self healing and communal forgiveness.