Prison ‘as’ punishment or prison ‘for’ punishment: examining the views of prison officers toward prison

Mcarthur, Gary (2014) Prison ‘as’ punishment or prison ‘for’ punishment: examining the views of prison officers toward prison. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    In recent years, prison numbers have grown despite falling levels of crime. Considering the increasing use of custodial sentences, which in many ways can be attributed to the rise of penal populism, research has largely ignored the views of those best placed to offer opinion on the role which imprisonment plays: those who deal with offenders and prison life on a daily basis. Prison officers are responsible for the implementation of penal policy and have the authority to undermine or enhance the goals of the establishment where they work, yet in answering the philosophical questions underlying imprisonment; their views have rarely been sought.
    This study utilised a mixed-method survey to examine the views of 398 prison officers working in Scottish Prison Service establishments. The purpose of this was to identify and explore the attitudes which prison officers hold in relation to imprisonment. Specifically, respondents were questioned on what should be the main purpose of prison, whether it should be a place where offenders are sent ‘as’ punishment or ‘for’ punishment, the effectiveness of prison, and who should influence its policies.
    Findings revealed prison officers viewed rehabilitation as the most important purpose of imprisonment, with retribution the least important. The majority of officers believed that offenders should be sent to prison ‘as’ punishment for their crime; though many felt that prison should constitute a place where offenders are sent both ‘as’ punishment and ‘for’ further punishment. Prison officers were largely undecided over the effectiveness of prison; however felt that their role was critical in reducing reoffending. Furthermore, respondents felt their views were often undervalued and believed prison officers should have more authority in the determining of penal policy, whereas political and public influence should be limited.
    Analysis reveals the views of prison officers to be largely supportive of the organisation they represent. Findings also provide the basis for a possible divergence of thought between the punitive message politicians promote, and what the Scottish Prison Service aims to achieve.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Institute of Criminal Justice Studies
    Depositing User: Beth Atkins
    Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2015 10:39
    Last Modified: 06 Feb 2015 10:39

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