Foreigners in their own homeland: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of criminal deportation and reintegration experiences
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To date, there has been little attention given to the reintegration of convicted criminals after their deportation. While in the United States, programs, and interventions are dedicated for the successful reentry of convicted criminals released within the country. The purpose of this article is to explore how deportees experience a reentry into a place that many of them consider an unfamiliar country. This study specifically examines the experiences of Tongans who have been deported from abroad, back to the islands of Tonga. Tonga, the last remaining kingdom in the South Pacific, consists of about 169 islands and is inhabited by approximately 100,000 people. Tonga has never been colonized and maintains a much of its cultural values and social organization allowing the country to sustain a strong cultural identity. This study will look into the cultural factors that have aided or hindered the reintegration of deportees in their Tongan communities. Using a qualitative approach, this study involved 12 deportees who participated in a sit-down interview. This research used an Interpretative Phenomenological Approach (IPA) to ascertain how deportees experienced their transition to Tongan society. The study data was analyzed using IPA, which identified several super-ordinate and many sub-ordinate themes. These themes help to explain how deportees make sense of their transition from the U.S., to Tonga as a deportee. Discussed in this research are the experiences of deportees which are both shared and personal experiences.