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date: 17 November 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter assesses how correctional officers exercise their authority over inmates. How officers influence prison climates is discussed in conjunction with their roles in impeding or facilitating the goals of confinement, and in particular their impact on a climate supportive of offender change. The authors draw from ethnography on prisons across the United Kingdom to explain some correctional officers’ distrust of managers, their cynicism toward correctional reform, and their alienation from liberal humanitarian goals. Examples of officer “cultures,” informal rules of conduct, and the origins of cultural values are identified toward the end of discussing how such values might shape inmates’ attitudes toward legal authority. An important question is whether the origins of these cultural values are structural and inherent in the prison, or whether these cultures differ so greatly across prisons that other explanations must play a part.

Keywords: correctional officers, prison climate, goals of confinement, prisons in the United Kingdom, officer subcultures, inmate attitudes

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