The United States Studies Centre hosted a seminar with Professor Bruce Western of Columbia University to discuss his new book, Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison.

Each year in the United States, more than 600,000 people are released from federal or state prison, many returning to chaotic living environments and acute hardship. Homeward is based on years of extensive field research conducted by Western and co-workers in the Boston area, documenting the lives of hundreds of former prisoners returning to society. Poverty, racial inequality, and poor social support network trap many of the book’s subjects.

Western documented that many former prisoners were themselves subject to lifetimes of violence and abuse and encountered more violence after leaving prison, blurring the line between victims and perpetrators. He concluded that boosting the social integration of former prisoners is key to both ameliorating the deep disadvantage they suffer reentering society and strengthening public safety.