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Surviving outside: Bearing witness to women’s post-release experiences of survival and death.

Carlton, Bree
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) Australia and New Zealand Critical Criminology Conference 2009: Conference Proceedings. Pg. 41-50.

While there is a growing and important body of research examining post-release support, survival and issues related to
recidivism and desistance there remains a dearth of knowledge about post-prison mortality, particularly research that seeks
to focus beyond statistical analyses, ‘risk factors’ and epidemiological approaches to examine individual experiences
surrounding death. The death of women post-release in Victoria is a sensitive issue that is currently neglected and
abandoned within official research agendas and policy. In the 1990s Sue Davies and Sandy Cook documented the
disproportionate rate at which women were dying after release and drew attention to the systemic factors that gave rise to
increased vulnerability and risk. Since this time, rates of imprisonment for women have doubled in Victoria, while rates for
indigenous Victorian women have increased by 150%. Legal advocates in Victoria characterise the physical and mental
health of women in Victorian prisons as a ‘community and medical emergency’. However current circumstances
surrounding post-release deaths among women are little documented. The ‘Surviving Outside’ research initiative
commenced in 2009 with the support of multiple Victorian support agencies including Flat Out, Melbourne CityMission and
VACRO. This paper will canvass methodological and ethical constraints faced by the researchers while highlighting
preliminary themes and issues arising from the research to date. (Authors abstract).


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