Practitioner and service user experiences of short term imprisonment and resettlement under the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014

Cracknell, Matthew ORCID: (2020) Practitioner and service user experiences of short term imprisonment and resettlement under the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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The Offender Rehabilitation Act (ORA) 2014 extended post-release supervision to the short sentence population, a cohort who have historically been neglected in penal discourse and were introduced as a part of the Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) reforms. The purpose of this thesis is to explore how resettlement is enacted by practitioners and experienced by individuals serving short sentences. This empirical research was undertaken in one case study area in England and Wales. The experiences of 35 practitioners and service users were captured, in order to gain a rich qualitative perspective of the newly re-designated resettlement prison; the experiences of transitioning through-the-gate into the community; post-sentence supervision; service user perspectives of navigating resettlement; and practitioner perspectives of on the ground practice in the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC).

Findings from this research reveal a dissonance between the aims and ambitions of TR and the reality on the ground. This dissonance is caused by a set of inter-connected institutional, temporal and political-economic barriers. Practitioners operating at the micro-level lacked the agency to overcome these barriers. This left TR as the latest iteration of resettlement policy that has failed to provide continuity between prison and probation. In addition, TR has also entailed broader consequences, eroding the value base of probation practice, curtailing innovation and reducing the relational aspects of supervision to a ‘treadmill’ of relentless yet generic practice.

Drawing on the theoretical constructs of the pains of imprisonment, responsibilisation, recovery/resettlement capital and net widening, this thesis argues that the failures to provide resettlement support led to practitioners adopting a responsibilisation strategy that pushes responsibility for resettlement towards other agencies and service users. This leaves service users to feel invisible and insignificant – distinct pains of the short sentence. Although the ORA 2014 was intended as a safety net for this population, it has instead caught individuals up in a complex ‘resettlement net’ of carceral control in the community.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
B. > Theses
Item ID: 33659
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Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2021 07:34
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2021 20:27

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