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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 192312 Find in a Library
Title: Death and the Triumph of Governance? Lessons From the Scottish Women's Prison
Journal: Punishment & Society  Volume:3  Issue:4  Dated:October 2001  Pages:459-471
Author(s): Pat Carlen
Date Published: October 2001
Page Count: 13
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: The main argument of this article is that analyses of the consciously moral and official attempts (1998-2000, and ongoing) to combat inmate suicide at the women's prison at Cornton Vale in Scotland through organizational innovation can provide important lessons, not only in the governance of women's prisons, but also in the conditions and politics of contemporary penal policymaking.
Abstract: At the policy level, the analyses called into question the adequacy of quantitative methods for assessing staff efficiency in delivering an appropriate anti-suicide policy. In the realms of theory and penal politics, the analyses called into question studies in government policy and practice that gave primacy to the teleological meanings of reform-oriented penal strategies. Insofar as such analyses failed to specify the points at which prevailing power relations and their conventional practices are under threat or open to challenge, they also failed to identify new configurations of resistance to penal oppression. Successive studies of government policy and practice suggest that prevailing power relations ensure that all practices of imprisonment are inevitably illegitimate; and successive governments continue to assess women's prisons according to inappropriate criteria, such that current opportunities to recognize, record, and extend the genuinely therapeutic practices that reduce the damaging pain of women in penal custody will be lost. This article concludes by arguing that the main lesson to be learned from Cornton Vale's attempts to prevent prisoners from committing suicide is that between the opposed policy rhetoric of "what works?" and "nothing works," there is a third way: a principled and political commitment to prisoner-need centered regimes which assume that promotion of all aspects of prisoner health is an achievable aim if developed within a never-ending debate about the moral probity of various penal practices and the political meanings of their possible modes of assessment. 6 notes and 36 references
Main Term(s): Corrections policies
Index Term(s): Case studies; Female inmates; Inmate suicide; Prison management; Scotland; Suicide causes; Suicide prevention
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