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Surviving Incarceration

Inside Canadian Prisons


Publication Year: 2014

Is prison a humane form of punishment and an effective means of rehabilitation? Are current prison policies, such as shifting resources away from rehabilitation toward housing more offenders, improving the safety and lives of incarcerated populations?

Considering that many Canadians have served time, are currently incarcerated, or may one day be incarcerated—and will be released back into society—it is essential for the functioning and betterment of communities that we understand the realities that shape the prison experience for adult male offenders. Surviving Incarceration reveals the unnecessary and omnipresent violence in prisons, the heterogeneity of the prisoner population, and the realities that different prisoners navigate in order to survive.

Ricciardelli draws on interviews with almost sixty former federal prisoners to show how their criminal convictions, masculinity, and sexuality determined their social status in prison and, in consequence, their potential for victimization. The book outlines the modern “inmate code” that governs prisoner behaviours, the formal controls put forth by the administration, the dynamics that shape sex-offender experiences of incarceration, and the personal growth experiences of many prisoners as they cope with incarceration.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

This work was funded by a Standard Research Grant from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The publication of this book was supported by the Memorial University of Newfoundland publication subvention program. Many people have been instrumental in making this work possible, including...

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pp. 1-20

Do keep in mind as you read this narrative that the events described leading to the narrator’s conviction of manslaughter occurred between three teenagers despite the adult discourse and articulation. The interviewee is a twenty-three-year-old black male who was released from prison after serving...

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Chapter One

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pp. 21-38

This chapter begins with a narrative of a man who spent much of his adult life in prison—he is now in his fifties—having experienced many different prisons, different contexts, different rules, and different degrees of, or a lack of, freedom. The interviewee was originally charged with and convicted...

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Chapter Two

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pp. 39-70

The story below is of a fifty-three-year-old man and his thirty-six-year fight with substance abuse; he is a kind man with an open heart who bore no judgment toward others or resentment.1 He was striving to reach out to those in need and, just maybe, dissuade them from taking the same path in...

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Chapter Three

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pp. 71-106

Unnecessary loss, the death of the young and innocent, tends to be a recurrent theme among the parolees. The narrative presented here is the words of a forever grieving father whose behaviour spiralled out of control following the death, at the hands of an intoxicated driver, of his ten-month-old child...

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Chapter Four

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pp. 107-136

The past, each person’s unique personal history, can define each individual and all too often with lasting effects that extend beyond what one could ever think possible. A childhood experience can change a person’s life trajectory, a poor choice as an adult combined with an impulsive reaction can take a...

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Chapter Five

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pp. 137-168

This is a narrative of a thirty-three-year-old man who, when interviewed, had served over fifteen years in prison and now holds a long-term-offender status due to his actions, which revolve around his sexual attraction to persons of both genders, ideally in their early teen years.1 His story is telling...

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Chapter Six

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pp. 169-192

These words come from a young man who was first imprisoned in provincial jail awaiting trial at the age of eighteen, another child alongside grown men.1 Although charged with murder, he was convicted of manslaughter, as he did not commit a crime worthy of a murder charge as determined by a...

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Chapter Seven

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pp. 193-212

This is the narrative of a former gang member living in a less affluent part of the city who describes his personal decision to turn away from a life embedded in negative influences and less than positive friendships and associations. Only eighteen when he committed his index crime, he speaks...


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pp. 213-216


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pp. 217-236


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pp. 237-245

E-ISBN-13: 9781771120548
E-ISBN-10: 1771120541
Print-ISBN-13: 9781771120531

Page Count: 250
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 870562404
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Surviving Incarceration

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Male prisoners--Canada--Social conditions.
  • Male prisoners--Canada--Psychology.
  • Male prisoners--Canada--Interviews.
  • Prisons--Canada--Sociological aspects.
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