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Friday, February 7, 2014

Punishment and Blame within Criminal Justice

By Hanna Pickard
Flickers of Freedom
Originally posted January 21, 2014

Here is an excerpt:

As well as working clinically with patients, I’m also currently developing a training for prison officers, to teach them how to distinguish responsibility from blame in theory and in practice, as part of an initiative to increase awareness and skills working with personality disorder (PD) and promote a more rehabilitative environment within prisons. On a purely personal note, going into prisons has been hard. Over time I’ve become much less scared, but I still can’t bear being locked in, dependent on the officers and their keys to get out. Every time I go, I can’t quite believe we’ve ended up doing this to people, no matter what they’ve done. So I certainly think there’s reason to re-think radically the entire system, on multiple grounds. However the training I’m developing and the theoretical work that underpins it aims to be pragmatic rather than revolutionary – and that’s what I’m going to blog about today. No utopian ideals!

We currently spend millions and millions imprisoning offenders. Meanwhile there’s some real and plenty of anecdotal evidence that one of the best ways to increase re-offending is to put people in jail – arguably, you really couldn’t design a better environment to entrench criminality if you tried. Yet 66% of male offenders and 50% of female offenders have PD – they have many of the same mental health problems and psycho-socio-economic backgrounds as patients in the community who we know we can help in Therapeutic Communities and other forms of treatment program.

The entire blog post is here.