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Home arrow Law arrow The Voluntary Sector in Prisons: Encouraging Personal and Institutional Change

Method

Setting and Participants

This research took place in five adult male prisons in England, all varying in terms of risk category and size. Prisons in England and Wales are categorised based on the type of prisoners they hold, the type of crime they committed, the length of their sentence, the likelihood of their escape, and the potential danger to the public if escape were to happen. The four categories are (A) escape from this category of prison would be considered highly dangerous to the public or national security; (B) prisoners in this category do not require maximum security, but escape for such prisoners still needs to be very difficult; (C) prisoners here cannot be trusted to reside in open conditions, but are considered unlikely to try to escape; (D) open prison conditions in which prisoners are reasonably trusted not to try to escape. Table 5.1 contains key information relating to all of the prisons included in this study.

Table 5.1 Prison information

Category/risk

Type

Operational capacity

Cell occupancy

C

Sex offender treatment facility

841

Mainly single, some double and multiple

C

Local

770

Single and double

C/D

Resettlement

798

Mainly double

D

Open

581

Single and double

Uncategorised

Young offenders institute (YOI)

550

Shared residential units

The Governor at each research site and the National Research Committee regulated by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) approved this study. The psychology departments within the prisons and occasionally the peer-support programme coordinators facilitated recruitment and data collection. Resettlement staff nominated participants and subsequently, the researchers sent recruitment letters to nominees outlining the research and inviting them to participate. The researchers then sent letters to all active members of each programme (92 potential volunteers in total), and a final sample of 17 responded stating that they were interested in participating. All refusal reasons related to clashes of appointments, treatment sessions, or education commitments. Eligibility requirements included 6 months or greater volunteer experience, current participation as a volunteer, and at least 2 years served in prison. These eligibility criteria assured that quality information concerning peer-support roles in prison could be generated. The researchers did not offer participants any benefits in exchange for their involvement, and participation was purely voluntary. To minimise the risk of potential participants of coercion, we made each aware at all stages of the research (on the information sheet, at the first meeting regarding the subject area, when gaining consent, and before interviews began) that their participation was entirely voluntary. The written consent form reiterated the voluntary nature of the study.

Among the sample of 17, participants’ crimes were varied and time spent in prison ranged from 2 years and 4 months to over 27 years. Table 5.2 presents further demographic information, including age and sentence length.

Table 5.2 Participant information

Pseudonym

Role

Age

Offence details

Sentence

Time served

1

Andy

Listener

29

Drug related

6 years

  • 3 years
  • 4 months

2

Kyle

Listener

39

Drug related

5 years

2 years 4 months

3

Steve

Listener

52

Drug related

IPP sentence

6.5 years

4

Ben

Listener

48

Murder

Life (99 years)

27 years 4 months

5

Cliff

Listener

64

Murder

Life (99 years)

27 years 1 month

6

Jason

Listener

28

Violent

IPP sentence (recommended 5 years)

4 years 3 months

7

Jason

Toe-by-Toe

W[1]

Sexual

W[1]

W[1]

8

Charles

Toe-by-Toe

W[1]

Sexual

W[1]

W[1]

9

Jamie

Toe-by-Toe

W[1]

Sexual

W[1]

W[1]

10

Ash

Insider

W[1]

Sexual

W[1]

W[1]

11

Charlie

Insider

W[1]

Sexual

W[1]

W[1]

12

Stewart

Insider

W[1]

Sexual

W[1]

W[1]

13

Simon

Insider

W[1]

Sexual

W[1]

W[1]

14

Drew

Insider

W[1]

Sexual

W[1]

W[1]

15

Harry

12 Steps

35

Attempted

robbery

W[1]

W[1]

16

Joel

12 Steps

52

Murder

W[1]

W[1]

17

Victor

12 Steps

38

Robbery

W[1]

W[1]

Note: *W = withdrawn. The lead researcher and the prison liaison officers at specific sites agreed that certain demographic information be omitted to ensure the protection of participants’ identities

  • [1] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [2] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [3] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [4] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [5] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [6] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [7] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [8] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [9] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [10] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [11] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [12] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [13] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [14] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [15] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [16] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [17] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [18] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [19] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [20] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [21] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [22] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [23] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [24] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [25] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [26] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [27] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [28] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [29] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
  • [30] Introductory questions—arrival into prison, initial perceptions ofprison life, first encounters with peer-support programmes. • Views and attitudes regarding peer-support work—initial perceptions of peer-support programmes, first involvement, motivationsfor volunteering.
 
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