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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 220604 Find in a Library
Title: Creating Decent Prisons: A Serendipitous Finding About Prison Hospice
Journal: Journal of Offender Rehabilitation  Volume:44  Issue:4  Dated:2007  Pages:1-16
Author(s): Kevin N. Wright; Laura Bronstein
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 16
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study originally explored the organizational factors associated with locating hospice programs into prison settings, but evolved into a study which examined the contributions of hospice to the creation of decent prisons.
Abstract: Findings suggest that prison hospice programs had a transformative influence not only on the prisoners who volunteered for the program, but also on the overall institutional climate. In community hospice programs, volunteers play a vital role by visiting with individuals who are dying, and remain at the individual’s side throughout much of the dying process. In prisons, the function of the volunteer is performed by other prisoners; volunteers received extensive training before becoming part of the prison hospice team. While the terms “compassionate and caring” are not usually associated with prisoners, those participating as hospice volunteers developed and portrayed such qualities in their interactions with dying prisoners and with members of the prison hospice team. Respondents interviewed spoke of the transformational impact on the volunteering prisoners, and described the transformations in terms of increased sense of self-worth, self-esteem, feelings of empowerment, enhanced capacity to feel compassion for others, ability to see the value of their lives in a different way, and caring about another person in a profound way. Regarding the impact on the overall prison environment, respondents observed that humane treatment of dying inmates made the overall feel of the facility change; the entire institution gained a sense of compassion from the hospice program, promoting an idea that caring could occur within a prison setting, as well as profoundly altering staff behavior and perceptions. Further research with includes respondents in other roles (correctional staff, administrators, and the prisoners) would broaden the perspective and provide a check on the view of the program coordinators. The data were collected during interviews with 14 hospice directors/coordinators and represented 11 Federal and State prison systems. References
Main Term(s): Prison climate; Prison conditions
Index Term(s): Correctional volunteer training; Death and dying; Inmate treatment; Organization studies; Organizational theories; Volunteer programs
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