Thesis

156 Chapter 6 The challenging context of prison work may influence staff’s (moral) decision-making, e.g., by basing practices on what is customary or on improper intuitions (Liebling et al., 2011; Van Houwelingen et al., 2015). Our results show that MCD facilitates in-depth reflections about how to implement the core values of prison work, taking into account possible limitations of prison staff’s scope of influence. The reflection during MCD helps prison staff to feel more empowered to address critical issues, e.g., about work conditions or potentially unsafe situations. Based on the ever-challenging context of prison work and the results of our research, we observe a need for ethics support services on a structural basis. Structural ethics support will help prison staff to deal with the moral aspects of their profession. We recommend that prison institutions, and particularly DCIA, (continue to) implement MCD sessions for this purpose. MCD proves to be a suitable training method for moral learning of prison staff. STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES This study is unique in its empirical research on the outcomes of ethics support for staff in prisons. By analyzing experienced outcomes of a large number of sessions, we gained new insights into howMCD can foster moral learning, thereby showing its value for prison staff and prison institutions. This is the first study that relates an explanation of what the moral learning of professionals entails, to the experienced outcomes of participants of MCD; thereby, showing by empirical data how MCD fosters a moral learning process in participants. On a critical note, we mainly asked staff about outcomes immediately after sessions instead of observing or asking weeks later. What is experienced as an outcome of MCD does not automatically imply an actual impact of MCD on practice. Further research into that impact, a lack of experienced outcomes, or even negative outcomes, would be worthwhile to learn how to further improve the implementation and shared ownership of MCD. More attention could also be given to organizational learning based on insights and lessons-learned from MCD series (instead of only focusing on what individuals or professional teams learn). To further foster and research impact on practice, one could consider using participative action research which can be a valuable method when developing learning processes in and with practices (Baum et al., 2006).

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