The aim of the research was to analyse letters written by prisoners so as to discover what the penitentiary space means to them. The practical goal was to show the usefulness of employing epistolography in assessing the quality of social and living conditions and to evaluate the quality of penitentiary practices in the context of prisoners’ needs, as well as to unmask the hidden re-education programme. The article is based on the results of the content analysis of 26 anonymised letters written by prisoners who for the first time serve a sentence in Polish closed regime prisons. The collected research material was subjected to a framework analysis supplemented by an emergent technique. The analysis of prison letters indicates a generally critical assessment of the quality of the practices carried out and their accuracy in relation to the prisoner’s rehabilitation needs. The letters reveal also the existence of a hidden re-education programme. The use of the epistolary corpus in the description of the penitentiary space may result in the improvement of the current penitentiary methods. A thorough analysis of prison letters indicate areas that require change or the application of specific solutions that may contribute to the rationalization of penitentiary practices.
The article presents the current model of readaptation measures, indicating possibilities for modification of the social readaptation system. It is proved the necessity to change the existing model of social support into model of social integration of excluded people for achieving their personal benefits and overall social security in society. Inclusive participation of society in social readaptation as well as the adequacy and individualization of the support offered, constitute an important component of the effective management of resources in the social readaptation system considering the people released from penitentiary institutions. To develop a holistic strategy of re-adaptation procedure it is required active and integrating participation of the society in assistive measures aimed at people leaving prisons and being at risk of social exclusion or requiring help and institutional as well as social support. Optimization of the model of social readaptation and reintegration is based on the involvement of local community, represented by the growing number of institutions and aid organizations in Poland. This integrative approach is a core feature of modern system of social re-adaptation. Hence the changes in this regard require a departure from the “silo-facade” model and focus on the “cooperative” model in order to achieve personal benefits from efficient reintegration and social security in the state.