Being and Becoming an Ex‐Prisoner, by Diana F. Johns. London: Routledge, 2018.

Date01 September 2019
Published date01 September 2019
accountability norm is an important intervention into transitional
justice scholarship and practice.
Both authors recognize and confirm the central role of law in
response to mass atrocity. Rowen concludes: “Truthcommissions are
now understoodas a complement to prosecutions, if not a precursor,
and mobilizing around one further contributes to the anti-impunity
agenda, for better or worse” (150). For Aboueldahab, limited judicial
capacity and weaklaws contribute to ineffectiveor nonexistent pros-
ecutions in all four of her cases, which leads her to call for capacity
building for judiciaries prior to any transitional justice efforts. As
these volumes demonstrate, legal and quasi-legal responses to mass
violence and human rights violation are increasingly treated as nec-
essary and expected, even if certain exceptions apply, but responses
in the name of transitional justice are ultimately insufficient. Transi-
tional justice canbe viewed as a continuously constituted idea or as a
narrow, well-established theory; yet, it is mostly a series of experi-
ments none of whichfully meets the anguished needs thatprompted
it and none of which adequately protects against extraordinary
harms in the future.
Being and Becoming an Ex-Prisoner, by Diana F. Johns. London:
Routledge, 2018.
Reviewed by Alessandro De Giorgi, Department of Justice Studies,
San Jose State University
“I don’t see it as re-integration because I wasn’t integrated to begin
with” (139). This powerful statement, shared by an Australian for-
mer prisoner with author Diana F. Johns and included in her book
Being and Becoming an Ex-Prisoner, effectively summarizes the para-
doxical nature of so-called “prisoner reentry.” Coined in the United
States in the early 2000s, when the catastrophic social costs of mass
imprisonment finally started to draw the attention of some reform-
oriented politicians and policy makers, the term describes the diffi-
cult process of returning to free society after incarceration. The
emerging reality of prisoner reentry has inspired a growing body
of literature, focused on documenting the challenges faced by for-
merly incarcerated people as they navigate their way back t o a soci-
ety that—even before it warehoused them in prison—had often
already confined them at the bottom of the racial and class
Book Reviews 929

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