Our Wellington and Manawatū campuses are open, Auckland remains closed at AL3. More information.

Dan Luff

School of Psychology
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
LIFE within the Society-of-Captives: Exploring the pains of imprisonment for real

Research Description
My research is concerned with offender rehabilitation. I have two overall research objectives. Firstly, to explore the socio-political context within which offender rehabilitation is located. I will look at the relationships between political and correctional policy. I aim to develop insights into the apparent disconnects between stated political/rehabilitative objectives and actual correctional practice. The literature suggests that wider societal/global processes, including a growing preoccupation with crime and risk, are playing a fundamental role. Is this the case in Aotearoa/New Zealand and, if so, how is it occurring? The second overall issue I will investigate concerns the rehabilitative experience behind prison walls. Given the significant social and financial costs of crime and of a burgeoning prison population, it is important that a comprehensive understanding be developed regarding the situation within the nation's prisons. Are they the places of rehabilitation that government representatives purport them to be? How is wider correctional policy shaping the rehabilitative experience of the individual prisoner?

Research Importance
Aotearoa/New Zealand's prison population is spiralling out of control. The government has pledged to reduce it by 30%, and to overhaul the prison system. Through the rare insights it will produce, my research can hopefully contribute to the addressing of what has become an alarming situation regarding rehabilitation and imprisonment.

Research Benefit
My methodology, autoethnography, requires comprehensive reflexivity. Through this process my research contributes to personal, rehabilitative growth. This is significant given both my offending and the corrupting influence of the prison environment. Via its potential contributions to penal and rehabilitative policy, the research will benefit society as a whole.

Personal Description
Looking for something positive to help me navigate a sentence of life imprisonment, I enrolled in a BA with Massey in 2004. I completed an Hons in psychology in 2016. Focusing on criminal justice, I discovered an almost total lack of prisoner (inside) perspectives in the literature pertaining to imprisonment and rehabilitation. I also realised that criminal justice is one field in which I could have considerable knowledge, both theoretical and experiential, upon release. With considerable support from both Massey and Corrections, I have been fortunate enough to commence PhD research.

Dr Leigh Coombes
Professor Mandy Morgan
Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley
Ms Jayne Waugh
Dr Stephanie Denne