"Out of the darkness into light": A Critical Evaluation Of Scottish Prison Reorganisation For Long Term Imprisonment 1988 To The Present

Chadwick, Kathryn Elizabeth (1996). "Out of the darkness into light": A Critical Evaluation Of Scottish Prison Reorganisation For Long Term Imprisonment 1988 To The Present. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.000049b2


During the mid 1980s official accounts stated that the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) was experiencing an unprecedented 'crisis' which primarily concerned: overcrowding, poor conditions, serious disorder and prisoner unrest, low staff morale and consequently loss of public confidence in the ability of the SPS to manage prisons effectively. Added pressure was placed on the SPS by a substantial increase in sentenced short term offenders together with an increase in long termers and a commitment in the courts to longer sentences. Although the 'crisis' in Scottish prisons emerged on a range of levels, producing one of the most bitter penal controversies in Europe, the SPS identified long term adult male imprisonment as fundamental to its problems and central to its programme of reform.

Once it became evident that the SPS had 'lost control' of its main male prisons, a period of evaluation and self appraisal was initiated. This research examines the manifestations of the 'crisis' and considers the response of the SPS, outlining and evaluating the subsequent policy changes and new initiatives adopted to alleviate the 'crisis'.

The theoretical framework of this study is derived specifically in critical analysis within criminology, which prioritises the significance of the structural relations of production and distribution, reproduction and patriarchy, and neo colonialism, as primary determining contexts, within which the inter-relationships and mutual dependencies of structural forms of oppression can be considered. In examining the relationship between the law, crime, punishment and the state, the politics of marginalisation and the processes of criminalisation are prioritised. Within this context, the means through which imprisonment is conceived and legitimated and the implications of a growing authoritarianism are discussed.

This study focuses on the dynamics of long term male imprisonment in Scottish prisons. The views and experiences of long term male prisoners are contrasted with those of senior management, Governors and prison staff in order to understand the 'crisis', and ascertain the impact of policy changes and new initiatives on both the Prison Service and the experiences of men serving long sentences in Scotland's prisons. The research places official discourse, which incorporates the 'view from above', alongside the views of those individuals whose experiences provide essential testimony concerning the daily reality of operational policy on regimes.

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