Reconsidering respect: Its role in Her Majesty's Prison Service

Butler, Michelle and Drake, Deborah (2007). Reconsidering respect: Its role in Her Majesty's Prison Service. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 46(2) pp. 115–127.



This article examines the meaning of respect in the interpersonal relationships within Her Majesty’s Prison Service. It is argued that respect-as-esteem and respect-as-consideration are often confused and unequally emphasised in modern society. This confusion is especially evident within the prison context where, due to the prison service’s ‘decency agenda’, the respectful treatment of inmates has become a topical issue. What does respect mean in prison? Why is it important? How can respectful relationships be established between staff and inmates? This article discusses these questions and proposes that there are different forms of respect possible between people. It is argued that there needs to be a recognition of the nuances of meaning when we use the word respect and that ‘respect-as-consideration’ may be the form of respect most consistently achievable, at the present time, within interpersonal relationships in English and Welsh prisons.

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