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Prison as Punishment…really?

For a few years now I have been fascinated by people’s perception of Punishment. From Open Prisons seen as “Holiday Camps” to bringing back hanging all encompass the subject of Punishment.

We all have ideas of what it should be and have our preferred theories;

  • Retribution: vengeance and just deserts
  • Rehabilitation: reforming the offender
  • Deterrence: reduction of crime by the threat or anticipation of a penalty
  • Denunciation: reinforcement of community values by indicating certain behaviours reprehensible and not tolerated
  • Restitution: compensation for the victim
  • Incapacitation: physical restraints such as imprisonment, removing potential offenders from the community thus reducing future crime

But what does it really mean and does it work?

Does prison rehabilitate?

Should prison rehabilitate?

This is a really interesting report that I recommend:

Prison: the facts (Prison Reform Trust)

http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Prison%20the%20facts%20May%202015.pdf?dm_i=47L,3ETJN,3KIY3M,C7EXO,1

With custodial sentences one size does not fit all. Imagine all prisoners trying to fit in one box, doesn’t work and how can it work? There are too many variables within a prison which may affect the outcomes for inmates such as attitude of staff, regime, distance from families, abilities of inmates, crime committed, length of sentence…I could go on!

There are groups of prisoners that make little or no progress within a ‘normal’ prison environment; it’s similar to children that are unable to cope with mainstream schooling. These prisoners are unlikely to be able to address their offending behaviour.

This week I was invited to HMP Grendon by Officer Clare Cowell to see for myself how those that might fall between the cracks are treated by introducing the work undertaken.

 

F wing (TC+) is a new community providing specialist intervention for prisoners with a low-level of intellectual functioning to address offence-related risk and associated personality and psychological disorders.

It was explained that as part of the Personality Disorder pathway they deliver a core treatment model suitable for sentenced offenders with a wide range of offending needs whose complex needs cannot be adequately met by a single intervention.

Treatment consist of structured small group therapy and community living where members have shared responsibility inter the day-to-day running of the community, decision-making and problem solving.

F wing (TC+) places a greater emphasis on structural interventions targeting specific learning styles.

Residents (inmates) welcomed us to the unit alongside the friendly approachable staff, offering hot drinks and biscuits whilst revealing parts of their prison journey. The day was well planned with chances to take part in music therapy, discuss art therapy, relaxation and measuring the IQ of residents.

So back to the original question prison as punishment? You decide

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