Drugs in Prison: A Critical Exploration of Prison as a Vehicle for The Rehabilitation of Problematic Drug Users

McDonough, James David (2019) Drugs in Prison: A Critical Exploration of Prison as a Vehicle for The Rehabilitation of Problematic Drug Users. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This study is a qualitative research project. Semi-structured interviews were held with three professionals who worked with problematic drug users, prisons, or both. The participants were: a former prison officer, an outreach leader for a drug and alcohol recover service, and an inspirational speaker and team builder for prison staff. They were chosen in order to explore exactly how rehabilitative prisons are for problematic drug users and what areas of concerns need to be addressed and what methods would be best. It became clear throughout this study that prisons are not rehabilitative by nature. There are a variety of institutional problems that arise which directly impact the potential for problematic drug users to rehabilitate. Prisons have three primary functions: containment, punishment and rehabilitation. The institution itself affects the likes of social understandings regarding criminals and people who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Which in return creates a higher prevalence of containment and punishment as the impact is wider than the individuals experience during incarceration. Inherently reducing the prevalence and impact of rehabilitation.
It became apparent during the research that the participants were aware of the sociological impact that prisons have but had different degrees of understanding. They understood that prisons are primarily contained of socially disadvantaged communities and they understood recidivism was prevalent. However, placed the responsibility upon the prisoners who ‘failed’ to rehabilitate. They each argued for further reformative responses to be focused upon to improve the prison conditions, whereas addressing a response of decriminalisation was met with misinformation and/or being against it. Which is the opposite of what the literature shows.

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