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PERCEPTIONS OF EX-CONVICTS ON REHABILITATION PROGRAMMES IN PREPARATION FOR REINTEGRATION IN BOTSWANA
The re-integration of ex-convicts is a concern globally and nationally yet a forgotten phenomenon. It is assumed that families are prepared for the release from custody of their incarcerated member. While the family may be longing to see ex-convict, it may be truamatised by his or her release from prison. The thinking about the known and anticipated behaviour of the ex-convict may affect the acceptance and supported needed by the ex-convict. This may complicate relationship problems and may perpetuate the negative labelling which affects positive integration. The unpreparedness of families and community may be hostile than being in prison leaving the ex-convict with no choice but to re-offend and be reconvicted and at most, a recidivist. As a result of this background, it was necessary to explore the process of re-integration of ex-convicts in Botswana and identify the challenges it poses for the ex-convicts. The researcher adopted a qualitative approach and interviewed 26 participants which comprised of ex-convicts, community leaders, professionals, and community members. The study was informed by the differential Association theory, the labelling theory, and within the ecological perspective. The findings revealed that the ex-convicts after release face an enormous mountain which is difficult to climb without adequate assistance. It was further established that preparation for release and integration process are inadequate. Furthermore, communities do not have interventions to receive, integrate, and support ex-convicts. Therefore, this paper argues that families and communities must be involved in the rehabilitation processes of prisons and in their release.
Keywords: Re-integration; rehabilitation; community; ex-convicts; differential, association; incarceration.