‘The prison don’t talk to you about getting out of prison’: On why prisons in England and Wales fail to rehabilitate prisoners [2018]

The position of rehabilitation in prisons in England and Wales has long been debated. Yet studies which consider how prisoners experience rehabilitative practices and processes are rare. Drawing on prisoners’ accounts, this article considers their perceptions and lived experiences of the ways in which rehabilitation is influenced by the nature of organizational support for rehabilitation; the characteristics of interventions implemented to support rehabilitation; and the complexion of the prison climate. We find the perception of an institutional failure to take responsibility for rehabilitation. Rehabilitative interventions – notably Offender Management Programmes (OMPS) and work placements – are perceived to be self-serving in rationale. They are experienced as ill-resourced, superficial in approach and unlikely to engender change. The prison climate, characterized by a lack of interest among correctional staff, lack of empathy and concern, and mixed – but often impersonal and sometimes antagonistic – relationships between prison staff and prisoners, further disrupts any ethos of rehabilitation. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Karen Bullock, Annie Bunce

Criminology & Criminal Justice, September 17, 2018