Prisons and their Moral Performance: A Study of Values, Quality, and Prison Life

Paperback | July 28, 2005

byAlison Liebling, Helen Arnold

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This book constitutes a critical case study of the modern search for public sector reform. It includes a detailed account of a study aimed at developing a meaningful way of evaluating difficult-to-measure moral dimensions of the quality of prisons. Penal practices, values, and sensibilities have undergone important transformations over the period 1990-2003. Part of this transformation included a serious flirtation with a liberal penal project that went wrong. A significant contributory factor in this unfortunate turn of events was a lack ofclarity, by those working in and managing prisons, about important terms such as 'justice', 'liberal', and 'care', and how they might apply to daily penal life. Official measures of the prison service seem to lack relevance to many who live and work in prison and to their critics. The authorproposes that a truer test of the quality of prison life is what staff and prisoners have to say about those aspects of prison life that 'matter most': relationships, fairness, order, and the quality of their treatment by those above them. The book attempts a detailed analysis and measurement ofthese dimensions in five prisons. It finds significant differences between establishments in these areas of prison life, and some departures from the official vision of the prison supported by the performance framework. The information revolution has generated unprecedented levels of knowledge about individual prisons, as well as providing a management reach into establishments from a distance, and a capacity for 'chronic revision', that was unimaginable fifty years ago. Another major transformation - themodernisation project - brought with it a new, but flawed, 'craft' of performance monitoring and measurement aimed at solving some of the problems of prison management. This book explores the arrival and the impact of this concept of performance and the links apparently forged between managerialismand moral values.

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This book constitutes a critical case study of the modern search for public sector reform. It includes a detailed account of a study aimed at developing a meaningful way of evaluating difficult-to-measure moral dimensions of the quality of prisons. Penal practices, values, and sensibilities have undergone important transformations over...

Alison Liebling is a University Lecturer and Director of the Prisons Research Centre at the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology. She is also a Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Helen Arnold is at the Cambridge University Institute of Criminology.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:592 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 1.27 inPublished:July 28, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199291489

ISBN - 13:9780199291489

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Table of Contents

PART 1: INTRODUCTION: PENAL VALUES AND PRISON EVALUATION1. The Late Modern Prison and The Question of Values2. The Measurement and Evaluation of Prison Regimes3. Identifying 'What Matters' in Prison4. Particular Prisons and Their QualitiesPART 2: THE MEANING AND MEASUREMENT OF KEY DIMENSIONS OF PRISON LIFE5. Relationship Dimensions: Respect, Humanity, Trust, Relationships, and Support6. Regime Dimensions: Fairness, Order, Safety, Well-Being, Personal Development, Family Contact, and Decency7. Social Structure and Other Dimensions: Power, Prisoner Social Life, Meaning, and Quality of LifePART 3: PENAL VALUES AND PRISON MANAGEMENT8. Managing Modern Prisons and their Performance9. Security, Harmony, and 'What Matters' in Prison Life10. Legitimacy, Decency, and the Moral Performance of Prisons

Editorial Reviews

`...a brave, thoughtful and inspiring book....We take for granted the values of a prison and its staff at our peril....Those who work inside prisons...will celebrate this work...'Tim Newell, Prison Service Journal