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Life after prison for David Eastman

Date

Julieanne Strachan

The Alexander Maconochie Centre.

The Alexander Maconochie Centre. Photo: 27 August 2012. Canberra Times photo by Rohan Thomson

David Eastman's habit of keeping up with the news while in jail and his high level of education should help him readjust to life in the community, prisoner advocates say.

Much has changed in the world since 1995 when Eastman was sentenced to prison for the murder of AFP Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester.

Technology has changed dramatically, from the widespread use of mobile phones to the reach of the internet into everyday life in Australia.

Prisoners Aid ACT president Brian Turner said it was not going to be easy for Eastman, but he believed some of the groundwork had been done before he left jail on Friday.

"I understand he has done the Throughcare program which the AMC [Alexander Maconochie Centre] offers to prisoners who are being released," he said.

"It's based on a series of interviews with the prisoners before they get out, to elicit their needs and then to work out a strategy. It deals with such things as housing, which is the number one priority, and it would normally deal with employment but in this case it's impractical I suppose to find suitable employment at his age."

An exit checklist issued to NSW prisoners instructs that inmates should arrange identification, such as a birth certificate or Medicare card, find accommodation, arrange medical care, plan study or work and find support so they aren't on their own when they leave.

Mr Turner said he did not expect Eastman to have any more difficulty adjusting to life in the community than other prisoners.

"I think he is a person who is well educated, for the most part rational and I am sure he can handle changes," he said. "I know he has kept up with the news while he was in. I don't think he would have any more problems than those not in for as long but who were not as well educated."

The Families Handbook issued for NSW prisoners' families and friends warns that after the initial excitement of release prisoners can often "feel flat".

"The released prisoner may be the centre of attention in the beginning, but soon other people have to get back to their normal lives," the handbook said.

"Prisoners may find it overwhelming having to deal with people and may withdraw a bit. Try not to expect too much in the early days."

Prisoners needed to open bank accounts, visit Centrelink, attend job search interviews and buy essentials such as food and toiletries in the first few days after being released, the book said.

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