Transforming rehabilitation, emotional labour and contract delivery: A case study of a voluntary sector provider in an English resettlement prison

Burke, Lol; Millings, Matthew; Taylor, Stuart and Ragonese, Ester (2020). Transforming rehabilitation, emotional labour and contract delivery: A case study of a voluntary sector provider in an English resettlement prison. International Journal of Law, Crime and Justice, 61, article no. 100387.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijlcj.2020.100387

Abstract

In 2019, the UK government announced a scaling back of changes enacted under the Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) agenda introduced in 2013. In doing so, it seemingly reversed key criminal justice policies surrounding the management and supervision of those subject to penal and community sanctions, which had drawn fierce criticism due to its financial and systematic failings. This article speaks to a small but growing body of literature concerned with the professional damage induced by this failed ‘rehabilitation revolution’ for practitioners (see Robinson et al., 2016; Millings et al., 2019b; Tidmarsh, 2019), through a sharpened focus on a small group of actors brought into the sector through out-sourcing and sub-contracting. Our findings are primarily based on observational and semi-structured interviews conducted with 11 staff employed by a Voluntary Sector Provider (VSP) working in a Category B resettlement prison during this period of profound change. Through the lens of emotional labour theory (Hochschild, 1983) we identify three themes; operational legitimacy; practice proficiency; and professional well-being - to make sense of VSP worker's experience of policy reform under Transforming Rehabilitation. In doing so we contend that working in such fraught conditions, and the excesses of emotional labour involved, can potentially compromise both the integrity and efficiency of service delivery.

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