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Evaluation of prisoner experiences during their engagement with the self-change programme

Kara Kennedy (Scottish Prison Service Headquarters, Edinburgh, UK)
Stephan McAlpine (HMP Edinburgh, Scottish Prison Service, Edinburgh, UK)

The Journal of Forensic Practice

ISSN: 2050-8794

Article publication date: 24 November 2022

Issue publication date: 1 February 2023




Previous difficulties were identified with the evaluation of violence interventions, resulting in gaps in the literature regarding the effectiveness of violence interventions. This study aims to contribute towards addressing the gap in the evaluation of violence interventions, by exploring the experience of prisoners who completed the self-change programme (SCP) during a 24-month period in HMP Shotts.


Five prisoners who completed the SCP at HMP Shotts were interviewed via a semi-structured interview to explore their experiences of engaging with this violence intervention. The data was analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), allowing the exploration and understanding of the subjective meanings of the experiences from the individual participants.


Interpretation of the data resulted in the identification of three superordinate themes that were relevant to participant experience: change as a process, supportive group environment and perceived outcomes.

Practical implications

These findings provide insight into prisoner experiences on SCP and contribute towards the evaluation of violence interventions. As prison-based interventions undergo a process of continued evaluation and re-accreditation, it is useful to understand the programme processes that enhance participant engagement and their learning experience, while also understanding the processes that may impede participant engagement and successful completion of violence interventions.


Although there has been substantial research conducted on violence interventions, this research has aimed to address some of the gaps and previous difficulties experienced within the evaluation of violence interventions.



Kennedy, K. and McAlpine, S. (2023), "Evaluation of prisoner experiences during their engagement with the self-change programme", The Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 34-45.



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