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


We selected participants through convenience sampling where the researcher entered the prison units where the young men reside and introduced the wider study (exploring attitudes towards health) to potential participants. The prison officers on duty were consulted during the recruitment process where they gave approval to approach specific young men to introduce the study. This was partly to support the safety of the researcher as well as minimise disruptions to the prison regime. The researcher, however, used a sampling framework to ensure that a range of young men (e.g. by ethnicity, age, and prisoner status)[1] was offered the opportunity to take part in the study. All young men who were approached to take part in the study agreed to an interview that was subsequently held in a private room on the unit. The age of participants in this sample ranged from 18 to 21, reflecting the full range at the YOI (where those aged 21 were either close to release or were due to be transferred to adult prisons), with a mean age of 19 years. In this sample, 71 % (n = 26) self-identified as being from a Black or Ethnic Minority or mixed ethnicity group with the remaining 29 % (n = 11) self-identifying as being of White ethnicity, also broadly reflecting the YOI population. Participants across the range of prisoner levels were also represented (46 % Standard, 40.5 % Enhanced, and 13.5 % as Basic level). Young men had spent an average of 10 months (ranging from 1 to 36 months) at the YOI.


Written notes taken during the interview were typed into electronic format. We conducted a thematic analysis through coding and indexing. In this process, sets of categories were developed to reflect the overarching themes of the data (Ritchie, Spencer, & O’Connor, 2003). Themes were then discussed with a second researcher, a pragmatic version of double-coding

(Barbour, 2003). The researcher also selected examples from the transcripts to illustrate the themes.

  • [1] Prisons in England and Wales set a status of Basic, Standard, or Enhanced for each prisoner under the ‘Incentive and Earned Privileges’ Scheme (IEPS). Prisoners are automaticallyallocated to ‘Standard’ level status after 14 days of entering a prison establishment. Withgood and compliant behaviour, prisoners can apply for ‘Enhanced’ status, where if awarded,they are eligible for additional privileges such as more and longer visits and increases in theamount of money they can spend in the prison. Prisoners can also be allocated ‘Basic’ levelas a punishment level for those who do not comply with prison regulations and protocols.
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