“I just want to give something back”: Peer work in prison

Nixon, Sarah ORCID: 0000-0003-4522-211X (2019) “I just want to give something back”: Peer work in prison. Prison Service Journal (245). pp. 44-53. ISSN 0300-3558

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Abstract

This article explores the relationships that prisoners develop with other prisoners through peer work, and how the role and peer work interactions can prove transformative. This article also focuses on how peer work can develop enhanced relationships with staff. The term ‘peer work’ is used, as it encapsulates the diverse range of roles that prisoners engage in, and is inclusive of more than just ‘peer mentoring’, which is a rapidly emerging focus in criminological research. Peer work is defined as any interactions that are carried out by prisoners that involve the act of working with a person of the same status, ‘working with people who are not in authority over us’ and ‘people that are the same as us’. The focus of this article is on interactions through formal peer work roles, rather than every day, informal interactions between prisoners and staff. There are various peer work schemes that operate in prisons, which are determined by the type of interactions and level of involvement between prisoners. The findings are taken from a qualitative study into peer work and desistance. The research was undertaken in a category ‘B’ prison and 15 prisoner peer workers and 8 staff members were interviewed. Current peer workers were selected from drug peer mentors, Listeners and Shannon Trust ‘Toe by Toe’ mentors. The data was thematically analysed and this article presents some of the key findings on the relational dynamics of peer work between prisoners, and also the impact of peer work upon prisoner-staff relationships. The findings demonstrate the potential of peer work to develop an appealing and conventional replacement self in prison, and a transformation away from further offending. Attention is given to the impact on those delivering peer work, rather than the ‘recipients’, which has been the mainstay of peer mentoring research, in terms of impact upon recidivism. This article seeks to explore the impact of peer work and self, identity and desistance.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Prison peer mentoring; Listeners; Drugs peer mentoring; Desistance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology. > HV7231 Criminal justice administration > HV7431 Prevention of crime, methods, etc.
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Natural & Social Sciences > Social Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Environmental Dynamics & Governance
Depositing User: Sarah Nixon
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2019 13:16
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2019 12:16
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/6972

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