This article is concerned with exploring the experience of black prisoners at HMP Grendon, the only prison in the country that operates wholly as a therapeutic community (TC).
The study involved undertaking semi‐structured interviews with 11 prisoners, all identifying themselves as “black”, who had committed a range of offences, as well as representing several geographical locations from the UK, Africa and the Caribbean. An adapted form of grounded theory was used to code the data collected from these interviews.
In total, four main themes emerged from the interviews undertaken: Grendon; Father deficit; Self‐concept; and Desistance.
Grendon may be the recipient of a culture of mistrust amongst black prisoners within the wider prison estate. Consequently, black prisoners' narratives could provide some much needed clarity on black prisoners operating from an “outsider within” perspective in the predominantly white TCs at Grendon.
The research suggested that elements of the prison's TC regime may not be culturally appropriate, appealing, or marketed correctly to black prisoners. This may be compounded by the social stigma attached to black men's mental health, combined with their overrepresentation within both the criminal justice and mental health systems.
While there is a developing body of knowledge of how prison TCs offer space for offenders to reflect, address, and then transform their offending behaviour, to date there has been limited consideration of the nature of the TC experience for black TC residents in the prison system of England and Wales. This article addresses this deficit.
Brookes, M., Glynn, M. and Wilson, D. (2012), "Black men, therapeutic communities and HMP Grendon", Therapeutic Communities: The International Journal of Therapeutic Communities, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 16-26. https://doi.org/10.1108/09641861211286294Download as .RIS
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