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Therapy in Prison: Revisiting Grendon 20 Years On

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Elaine Player, Elaine Genders

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-450
Number of pages20
JournalHoward Journal Of Criminal Justice
Issue number5
Early online date11 Nov 2010
E-pub ahead of print11 Nov 2010
PublishedDec 2010

King's Authors


Twenty years ago we conducted an ethnographic study of Grendon in which we examined the incongruous cohabitation of a prison and a therapeutic community (TC) within a single establishment. We concluded that the partnership between the two institutions was inevitably unequal and that, whilst the prison allowed the TC a sphere of influence, penal power prevailed whenever its institutional interests were threatened. In 2010 we revisited the establishment to explore how the relationship between penal and therapeutic functions had evolved over the intervening 20 years, a period marked by considerable change in the wider penal landscape. This article considers how these broader transformations in penal policy have been negotiated within the institution and what their impact has been on the ability of the TCs to maintain their authority, legitimacy and therapeutic integrity. We conclude with some preliminary thoughts about the protection of therapeutic work in prisons and the devolution of power and responsibility across government departments for therapeutic opportunities and the sentence management of serious offenders.

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