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Experiences of a Young Gypsy-Traveller in the Transition From Custody to Community: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

NCJ Number
Legal and Criminological Psychology Volume: 12 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2007 Pages: 133-147
Rosie Meek
Date Published
February 2007
15 pages
This case study of a young male Gypsy-Traveler ("Rick") from southwest England explores his experiences in serving a sentence in a Young Offender Institute and in making the transition from custody back into the community.
The study findings suggest that cultural issues of violence and masculinity are of particular importance when considering the needs and experiences of young Gypsy-Traveler men, both in prison and in the community. The prison regime was particularly difficult for Rick because of his strong interests in physical and outdoor activities. He perceived himself as being isolated and alienated from inmates and staff while in prison. His negative views of other inmates frequently led to fights and the development of his image as a troublemaker among prison staff. He viewed prison as just a place to keep troublemakers off the streets. He did not himself experience any life-changing education or treatment in prison. Regarding his transition into the community after release, Rick recognized his increased risk of contact with the police because of his record of violence and police attention to Gypsy-Travelers. His plans for the future involved marriage, "settling down," and keeping physically fit. In order to start meeting the needs of the high number of Gypsy-Travelers in prison, an attempt must be made to understand the complex cultural, institutional, and identity-related issues that Gypsy-Travelers experience in the criminal justice system. An initial semistructured interview was conducted while Rick was serving a 2-year prison sentence. A subsequent interview was conducted after release from prison. Interview transcripts were analyzed by using interpretive phenomenological analysis. 64 references