Prison and its Afterlives: Haunting and the Emotional Geographies of Formerly Incarcerated People’s Reintegration Experiences in Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Prison , Haunting , Emotional Geographies , Incarceration , Reintegration , Risk , Kingston
Kingston is undeniably a prison town. As the venue for Canada’s first prison and current home to nearly twenty percent of the nation’s federally incarcerated people in seven penitentiaries around the city, prisons undoubtedly influence the economic, political, and social life of Kingston. While Kingston’s identity as a prison town is touted by the local municipality as beneficial for the community, people who have been incarcerated and released into Kingston have a different story to tell. Reintegration – the process of leaving prison and re-entering the community – is inevitable for the majority of incarcerated people in Canada. However, people who are released from prison into Kingston have reported significant difficulties maintaining lasting or successful reintegration despite the overwhelming presence of local prisons, their supporting administration, and an extensive network of non-profit and charitable service providers. Reintegration into the community is not only a physically exhausting experience, but one that is emotionally fraught with feelings of anticipation, uncertainty, fear, anger, and boredom. Based on twenty-three interviews with formerly incarcerated people in Kingston, I argue that attending to the emotional geographies of reintegration in Kingston, where people both struggle with and resist violent reintegration discourses of risk and responsibility, is critical to developing a more equitable reintegration praxis. I contend that understanding how people with prison experiences feel in the community not only brings the ethics of current reintegration practices into question; it also reveals how neoliberal discourses of risk and responsibility extend beyond the walls of the prison, prolonging the haunting effects of the settler-colonial carceral state in the everyday lives of formerly incarcerated people.