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Book part
Publication date: 16 September 2020

Toni Wood

Academic literature portrays prison officers in various ways: as insensitive figures lurking in the background (Cohen & Taylor, 1972), as brutes prone to violence…

Abstract

Academic literature portrays prison officers in various ways: as insensitive figures lurking in the background (Cohen & Taylor, 1972), as brutes prone to violence (Kauffman, 1988) or more positively as noble people struggling to get the job done as best as they could (Thomas, 1972). Traditionally, the role of the prison officer is overshadowed by stereotypical views of male officers being uneducated, brutish and insensitive (Crawley, 2004a). Officers were traditionally recruited to the service from a military background, an environment that is as structured and disciplined as the working conditions in the prison service. Women have worked in the prison service for many years, although historically they were confined to administration roles and were in the main, invisible. After the passing of Peel's Gaol Act (1823), only female officers could work in women's prisons, and male governors were replaced with matrons. At the time, it was felt that female demureness, good temper and compassion would rub off on the female prisoners and that reformed prisoners would emulate their behaviour (Zedner, 1991).

In England and Wales, there is a growing body of literature related to prison officers (Arnold, 2005; Crawley, 2004a; Liebling & Price, 2001; Liebling, Price, & Shefer, 2011; Tait, 2008); however, none of this is dedicated to female prison officers. Arguably, this could be due to the fact that the profession has traditionally been recognised as a male occupation, and therefore the prison officer literature has been dominated by the thoughts and actions of men. Consequently, we know little of female prison officers' experiences of working in male-dominated, masculine organisations. In particular, we know very little about female prison officers' perspectives on gender-specific issues, such as pregnancy and motherhood while working in these institutions, either on their own or the women prisoners they work with. Drawing on qualitative research in a women's prison, this chapter will focus on female prison officers as mothers and their roles and relationships with women in prison who are also mothers. The chapter will explore how gendered experiences such as pregnancy, miscarriage, child birth and child-rearing (of both the officers and women prisoners) can create unique emotional burdens for some female officers, impacting their working role, home life and relationships with the women they work with. The chapter will go on to illustrate the ways in which these female officers manage or mismanage their emotions whilst presenting as professional in this male-dominated workplace.

Details

Mothering from the Inside
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78973-344-0

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 1 March 1995

John Black

Industrial relations problems in the UK Prison Service are part ofthe wider crisis within the penal system over the past 30 years, fromthe era of the Mountbatten Report of…

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Abstract

Industrial relations problems in the UK Prison Service are part of the wider crisis within the penal system over the past 30 years, from the era of the Mountbatten Report of 1966 to the Woolf Report of 1990, and beyond. Incidents and disputes, concerning both industrial relations and the problems of prison regimes, attract wide media reporting, not all of it accurate. Attempts to redress this selectivity, and to demonstrate the complex linkages between industrial relations and the administration, management and reform of the penal system. Focusing mainly on the Home Office Prison Service (HOPS), and on the three main trade unions, highlights the differing political goals of the prison service, and the perpetual turmoil without clear purpose in which the principal actors seem to be enmeshed.

Details

Employee Relations, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0142-5455

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Article
Publication date: 12 June 2017

Sarah Hean, Atle Ødegård and Elisabeth Willumsen

Interprofessional collaboration is necessary when supporting mentally ill offenders but little is understood of these interactions. The purpose of this paper is to explore…

Abstract

Purpose

Interprofessional collaboration is necessary when supporting mentally ill offenders but little is understood of these interactions. The purpose of this paper is to explore prison officers’ perceptions of current and desirable levels of interprofessional collaboration (relational coordination (RC)) to understand how collaboration between these systems can be improved.

Design/methodology/approach

Gittell’s RC scale was administered to prison officers within the Norwegian prison system (n=160) using an adaptation of the instrument in which actual and desired levels of RC are evaluated. This differentiates between prison officers’ expectations of optimum levels of collaboration with other professional groups, dependent on the role function and codependence, vs actual levels of collaboration.

Findings

Prison officers reported different RC levels across professional groups, the lowest being with specialist mental health staff and prison doctors and highest with nurses, social workers and other prison officers. Significant differences between desired and actual RC levels suggest expertise of primary care staff is insufficient, as prison officers request much greater contact with mental health specialists when dealing with the mentally ill offender.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to limited literature on collaborative practice between prison and health care professionals. It questions the advisability of enforcing care pathways that promote the lowest level of effective care in the prison system and suggest ways in which mental health specialists might be better integrated into the prison system. It contributes to the continued debate on how mental health services should be integrated into the prison system, suggesting that the current import model used in Norway and other countries, may not be conducive to generating the close professional relationships required between mental health and prison staff.

Details

International Journal of Prisoner Health, vol. 13 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1744-9200

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Article
Publication date: 14 August 2020

Per-Åke Nylander, Claes Holm and Odd Lindberg

This study aims to analyze prisoners’ experiences of prison drug-treatment programs in Sweden. How do they describe their personal relationships with the prison staff and…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to analyze prisoners’ experiences of prison drug-treatment programs in Sweden. How do they describe their personal relationships with the prison staff and with other prisoners in the wings? How do they describe the social climate and the control in drug-treatment wings? How could differences between these wings be understood?

Design/methodology/approach

The data consist of observations and face-to-face interviews with male and female prisoners in three Swedish prison drug-treatment wings. Analytical concepts used are roles, relationships and rituals.

Findings

The prisoners’ relationships with prison officers seemed connected to what kinds of rituals the prisoners and staff engaged in. In all three treatment wings, the staff and prisoners were involved in natural rituals. This was most frequent in the women’s prison with a 12-step program. The prisoners were frustrated with control measures but were mainly positive to the measures as preventing drugs from coming into the wing.

Research limitations/implications

Only three prison wings, however in varying prisons, have been studied.

Originality/value

These results gives a useful prisoners’ perspective on the development of drug-prevention and treatment in different kinds of prisons.

Details

International Journal of Prisoner Health, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1744-9200

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Article
Publication date: 11 April 2016

Jane L. Ireland, Carol A. Ireland and Christina L Power

The purpose of this paper is to examine attitudes towards prisoner-to-prisoner bullying, further considering the association between attitudes and characteristics of the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine attitudes towards prisoner-to-prisoner bullying, further considering the association between attitudes and characteristics of the prison environment thought to promote prisoner bullying.

Design/methodology/approach

Questionnaires were administered to 423 adult male prisoners and 195 correctional officers from three prisons in Canada. Participants completed the Prison Bullying Scale and the Prison Environmental Scale.

Findings

Convergence in attitudes between prisoners and officers were noted although staff were more likely to consider bullies to be skilled, whereas prisoners were more likely than officers to feel that victims of bullying should be supported. Associations between attitudes supportive of bullying and environmental characteristics likely to promote prison bullying were found primarily among prisoners; the strongest predictors of such attitudes were poor relationships (e.g. prisoner to officer; prisoner-to-prisoner).

Research limitations/implications

The study highlights the importance of the social aspect of the prison environment. It further provides an outline of two measures that could have utility in evaluating interventions designed to reduce prisoner-to-prisoner bullying.

Practical implications

Interventions into prisoner-to-prisoner bullying should attend to the wider environment and not focus solely on individual pathology approaches. A “whole prison” approach to intervention should be adopted, with recognition that officers and prisoners are part of the community. A focus on the perceived relationships between all those in this community requires consideration, with a community centred approach recommended for intervention. A concentrated effort is needed on evaluating and publishing interventions into prisoner-to-prisoner bullying.

Originality/value

The study is the first to examine attitudes in a combined sample of prisoners and officers and focuses on the role of the wider prison environment. It also utilises a sample from three prisons as opposed to focusing on a single establishment.

Details

Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1759-6599

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Article
Publication date: 14 June 2013

Zahrotur R. Hinduan, Harry Suherman, W.J. Lucas Pinxten, Bachti Alisjahbana and Harm J. Hospers

Prison officers have a vital role in running a secure and healthy living environment for the inmates. The purpose of this article is to examine the relationship between…

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Abstract

Purpose

Prison officers have a vital role in running a secure and healthy living environment for the inmates. The purpose of this article is to examine the relationship between HIV/AIDS‐related knowledge and attitude towards inmates living with HIV among the officers in an Indonesian narcotics prison.

Design/methodology/approach

A total of 93 officers from a narcotics prison in Bandung, Indonesia voluntarily participated in this cross‐sectional study by completing a self‐reported questionnaire. A Prior focus group discussion was also held among selected participants.

Findings

Statistical data analyses indicate that all domains of HIV/AIDS‐related knowledge, i.e. knowledge of HIV‐transmission, general HIV/AIDS knowledge and knowledge of HIV‐prevention, have substantial positive correlations with the prison officers' attitude towards inmates living with HIV. These results show that the more knowledgeable the officers are, the less likely they are to respond in an unfavourable manner to inmates living with HIV and vice versa.

Research limitations/implications

Despite the limited participants involved in this study, the knowledge gaps that are identified in this study should be the starting point for the development of educational interventions for prison officers.

Practical implications

Sufficient educational programs and the latest materials need to be made available within the prison.

Social implications

Commitment from prison authorities as well as a proper policy are also needed.

Originality/value

This study helped prison authorities to identify areas for knowledge development of the officers. Hopefully the positive attitude towards inmates living with HIV will be developed.

Details

International Journal of Prisoner Health, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1744-9200

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 1 November 2017

This chapter will examine the basis for the teaching of integrity-based competencies to prison officers as part of their training. This training underpins the performance…

Abstract

This chapter will examine the basis for the teaching of integrity-based competencies to prison officers as part of their training. This training underpins the performance of prison officers in the execution of their daily workplace duties, and forms a part of the ‘Sustainable Justice’ approach to rehabilitation. At the heart of this approach is a desire to understand and explain how a prison officer can be taught to go beyond what is the basic requirement in their tasks, in order to deliver the ‘safe, secure and humane’ service required of them in the Irish Prison Service (IPS) Mission Statement. The degree of success in achieving this form of elevated integrity within the prison can be seen to impact upon the lives of the prisoners in the officer’s care, and on wider society as a whole.

This chapter will also discuss mentoring as a key form of learning within the prisons. While the world of the prison is one which is closed to many in society, the author gained insights when he worked as an ‘embedded sociologist’, working as the senior academic on the IPS recruit training programme for five years between 2008 and 2013 within Ireland’s prison system. Here, he used his academic experience to put together an award-winning academic programme with his colleagues and senior IPS training staff. This experience provided him with valuable sociological understandings into the hidden world of the Irish prison system, as well as the officers who work behind their walls.

Details

The Sustainable Nation
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-379-3

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 3 August 2012

Neil Gredecki and Jane L. Ireland

The current study aims to examine staff‐prisoner relationships through an exploration of interpersonal style. It was predicted that the interpersonal style of prison

Abstract

Purpose

The current study aims to examine staff‐prisoner relationships through an exploration of interpersonal style. It was predicted that the interpersonal style of prison officers would impact on their perception of their ability to work with prisoners, dependent on the specific interpersonal style of prisoners.

Design/methodology/approach

Prison officers (n=128) completed a measure of interpersonal style (Check List of Interpersonal Transactions‐Revised: CLOIT‐R) and a series of eight vignettes designed to assess their perceived ability to positively engage with prisoners of differing interpersonal styles.

Findings

Prison officers with a friendly interpersonal style were found to be positive about their perceived ability to work with all prisoners whereas hostile prison officers were negative. Dominant officers were found to be positive about their perceived ability to work with submissive prisoners, whilst submissive officers were not positive in their judgments about working with dominant prisoners.

Research limitations/implications

The results are discussed with regards to issues of role assignment within forensic settings and the application of interpersonal theory. The study highlights the need to examine a range of factors in order to understand the interpersonal relationships experienced between staff and prisoners. Future research could examine relationships between the attitudes that prison officers hold towards prisoners and rehabilitation and interpersonal behaviours.

Practical implications

The findings are considered in terms of the prison officer role and the provision of support and training to prison officers.

Originality/value

This paper is original in its application of interpersonal theory to staff‐prisoner relationships.

Article
Publication date: 12 September 2016

Gail Kinman, Andrew James Clements and Jacqui Hart

The purpose of this paper is to examine the well-being of UK prison officers by utilising a benchmarking approach.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the well-being of UK prison officers by utilising a benchmarking approach.

Design/methodology/approach

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Stress Indicator Tool is widely used in the UK to assess key psychosocial hazards in the workplace encompassing demands, control, support from managers and co-workers, relationship quality, role and change management. This study utilises this approach to examine the extent to which a sample of UK prison officers meets the HSE recommended minimum standards for the management of work-related well-being. Levels of mental health and job satisfaction in the sector are also assessed using measures with extensive occupational norms. The psychosocial hazards that make the strongest contribution to mental health and job satisfaction are also considered.

Findings

Respondents reported lower levels of well-being for all of the hazard categories than recommended. Moreover, mental health and job satisfaction were considerably poorer among prison officers than other occupational groups within the emergency and security services in the UK. Considerable variation was found in the psychosocial hazards that predicted mental health and job satisfaction.

Practical implications

The high levels of stressors and strains experienced by UK prison officers gives serious cause for concern. Priority areas for interventions to enhance well-being in the sector are considered and areas for future research discussed.

Originality/value

This study highlights the wide-ranging benefits of a benchmarking approach to investigate work-related stressors and strains at the sector level.

Details

International Journal of Workplace Health Management, vol. 9 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1753-8351

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2005

Odd Lindberg

Women represent approximately 6% of the prison population of Sweden (total ‐ 5000). This article presents a study of female inmates in the closed prison for women…

Abstract

Women represent approximately 6% of the prison population of Sweden (total ‐ 5000). This article presents a study of female inmates in the closed prison for women, Hinseberg, in Sweden. The study examines the inmates and staff culture on the basis of concepts such as interaction rituals, status, role conflicts and social representations. The methodology included questionnaires to all inmates, qualitative interviews with inmates and staff and observation within the prison. Among the findings, it was clear that some inmates have a higher status than others, which is linked to the type of crime committed, years of imprisonment, previous imprisonment, relations to male gang members, and charisma. So‐called ‘Queens’ rule the wings and maintain the inmates’ codes. Examples of these codes are: do not associate with the staff, do not talk too long with staff, do not be an informer, do not seek treatment programmes, and do not trust anybody. Those who challenge the codes are seen as an informer or traitor, and the culture in the prison was found to be oppressive towards women who want to seek treatment and support from staff. The study also shows that there are similarities in the staff and the inmates’ cultures. Experienced prison officers often have a significant impact on the staff culture, and among staff there are informal codes, i.e. that you should not be ‘too close’ to the inmates and do not trust the inmates. This leads to an objectifying and distancing approach in relation to the inmates. In both cultures stereotypical social representations of ‘the other’ is created, which have a negative impact on the possibilities for working with rehabilitation.

Details

International Journal of Prisoner Health, vol. 1 no. 2/3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1744-9200

Keywords

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