Uitdagingen in het opzetten en het uitvoeren van interviews met niet-Belgische gedetineerden | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 24, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1385-1535
  • E-ISSN: 1875-7324


Challenges in setting up and conducting interviews with non-Belgian prisoners

In 2018, 44.6% of the prison population in Belgium consisted of prisoners with a non-Belgian nationality (n = 4.601). Despite their overrepresentation, little is known about this group of prisoners, because they are often excluded from research. Therefore, the FIP2 project (Foreigners’ Involvement and Participation in Prison) was initiated and focuses on non-Belgian prisoners and their formal and informal participation in prison life. Fifty-one interviews with non-Belgian prisoners were conducted in four prisons. During these interviews, we experienced several challenges, which included various difficulties. In this article, we describe, analyze and reflect on the most important challenges in setting up and conducting interviews with non-Belgian prisoners: (1) how we can reach non-Belgian prisoners; (2) interviewing in a foreign language for the researcher/respondent; (3) the presence of an interpreter in individual interviews; (4) the use of Appreciative Inquiry in a less appreciative context; (5) objective researchers versus emotionally jarring conversations; and (6) ‘white’ female researchers and male non-Belgian prisoners. We do not have miracle solutions about how to deal with these challenges. Nevertheless, we do have some recommendations that we would like to give to other researchers and professionals about engaging in interviews or conversations with this ‘forgotten’ group of prisoners.


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