The Importance of Incorporating Lived Experience in Efforts to Reduce Australian Reincarceration Rates


It is widely acknowledged that ‘good policy’ should be informed by the people it most directly affects. However, learning from people with lived experiences in the criminal justice sector, such as people who have served time in prison, has received little attention. This article discusses the significance of and challenges related to capturing the voices of people who are currently serving time or have served time in prison. We argue that formalising the perspectives of these individuals into policymaking through co-design processes may be an important method for enhancing program responses to rising incarceration and reincarceration rates.

*This is a corrected version of the original article published ‘Online First’ on February 17, 2021. Some text in the literature review was unintentionally missing attribution. The Correction Notice can be found at

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Published: 2021-06-01
Pages:83 to 98
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How to Cite
Doyle, C. ., Gardner, K., & Wells, K. (2021). The Importance of Incorporating Lived Experience in Efforts to Reduce Australian Reincarceration Rates. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 10(2), 83-98.

Author Biographies

UNSW Canberra

Caroline is a lecturer in the School of Business at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Canberra. Caroline has extensive fieldwork experience in Latin America. Her current research draws from her legal and policy experience by analysing how policymakers develop and implement policies to respond to social problems, such as organised crime and violence. 

UNSW Canberra

Karen Gardner is a health services researcher with a background in sociology and population health. Her research focuses on quality improvement, primary care performance monitoring and management, and the co-design, implementation and evaluation of complex interventions, particularly for under-served populations.


Karen Wells is a criminal lawyer with over 15 years experience.  She has a strong interest in therapeutic jurisprudence.