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Invisible ghosts of care and penality: Exploring Canadian correctional workers’ perceptions of prisoner well-being, accountability and power

Published onJul 01, 2022
Invisible ghosts of care and penality: Exploring Canadian correctional workers’ perceptions of prisoner well-being, accountability and power
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Invisible ghosts of care and penality: Exploring Canadian correctional workers’ perceptions of prisoner well-being, accountability and power
Description

Much correctional work is generally misunderstood by the mainstream media and many public circles as solely punitive and authoritative, which has fueled many politicized outcomes for correctional policy, practice and intervention. Reasonably, critical criminological discourse is steered primarily by the perspectives and voices of prisoners and victims. Yet this privileging leaves many questions remaining about how correctional workers in the contemporary era negotiate their complex duties of both prisoner care and accountability. Drawing on data garnered from open-ended survey responses of provincial and territorial correctional employees (n = 876) in Canada, we explore how Canadian correctional workers balance their emotional and occupational framework and perspectives with integrity. Informed through a lens of emotional labour, we find that many Canadian correctional workers recognize the need for, and gap in, prisoner care, mental health and rehabilitation, while also problematizing the shift and decline in prisoner accountability, which they believe jeopardizes both correctional worker and prisoner safety. We discuss the implications our findings present in relation to questions of power and control in prison spaces.

 

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