Thesis

12 Chapter 1 is important for the successful operation of a prison’ (Cheeseman et al., 2011). Prison staff – in their role as a part of the ‘executive authority’ of our government institutions – hold responsibility for the well-being of prisoners (Enggist et al., 2014). Prison staff can even function as role models for prisoners (DCIA Educational Institute, 2014; Liebling et al., 2011, pp. 48–49, 55). However, literature shows how persistent priority is given to the control of prisoners (Craig, 2004) and this prioritization of security can be at the expense of other goals of imprisonment (Dilulio, 1987). Many work processes in prison show to be established in regulations and protocols. In Dutch prisons, an increasing number of regulations seem to be developed and enforced in response to incidents (Van Houwelingen et al., 2015, p. 109). DCIA is described as an incident- and solution-oriented organization in which staff members rely on automatisms in their practice. Additionally, the presence of hierarchical structures in the DCIA organization can limit the staff’s own initiative (Van Houwelingen et al., 2015, p. 20). Within the DCIA organization there is a risk that these tendencies could lead to ‘a lack of moral awareness’ among prison staff and that staff would mostly base judgements and action on their intuitions and emotions instead of well-considered reflections (Van Houwelingen et al., 2015, p. 81). The mentioned prison director observes his staff struggling with the morality of their daily practice since ‘there is often a need to act quickly [..] The assessment and discussions on moral dilemmas have to occur between all operations’ (Ledegang, 2015). Moral dilemmas occur when two or more conflicting values raise doubts regarding the right action (Maclagan, 2003). It is indeed known that the context of working in prison can lead to many challenging situations (Schmalleger & Smykla, 2014), often these are situations with moral components (White et al., 2014). However, the prison context does not immediately provoke a reflective working style on what ‘good’ or ‘successful’ practice means. Prison staff are known to develop a ‘closed culture’ among colleagues with a tendency to function based on ‘this is the way things are done around here’ (Liebling, 2000). There is a need to change this, as a WHO report stated: ‘Prisons can, by reputation and experience, be hazardous and stressful places for staff. However, it need not be this way. Leadership and staff training is fundamental to ensure that employees can work productively, act as role models for prisoners, be healthy and be confident of support.’ (Enggist et al., 2014)

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