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PROLONGED INCARCERATION AND PRISONERS’ WELLBEING: LIVID EXPERIENCES OF AWAITING TRIAL/PRE-TRIAL/REMAND PRISONERS IN NIGERIA
Purpose: Awaiting trial prisoners (ATPs) are represented in prisons globally, and may stay for long periods in detention. This group is however underrepresented in literature on incarcerated persons. We aim to explore the lived experiences of ATPs detained for prolonged years in a sub-Saharan country; examining what they make of their status and how their conditions have affected their wellbeing.
Method: Eight inmates awaiting trial for armed robbery and murder offences, held for between 8 years and 15 years participated in a focus group discussion. Hermeneutic phenomenology guided the interpretation of transcripts.
Result: ATPs recount disbelief and negative emotional experiences upon incarceration. Alienated and uncertain about their status, ATPs experience intensified distressful ruminations which impact wellbeing. ATPs re-rationalized incarceration and made social comparisons which breed poor perception of self. ATPs nonetheless recounted hopefulness, made favorable comparisons; and find consolation in religious beliefs.
Conclusion: Prolonged years spent awaiting trial fuels a deterioration of wellbeing. Alternatives to incarceration are urgently needed for ATPs. Distressful experiences recalled by the inmates beg for the inclusiveness of ATPs in programs that promote wellbeing. The Good Lives Model holds potentials for building an inclusive framework to accommodate ATPs in prison interventions.
Awaiting trial; criminal justice system; incarceration; intervention; prison;