Thesis

53 Moral dilemmas of Dutch prison staff DISCUSSION Observations about the content of moral dilemmas The main findings show a large number and wide variety of moral cases in which prison staff deliberate and search for insights and answers to often challenging situations. Based on the two main aims of prison work – security and rehabilitation – one might expect both themes to be clearly present within our findings. However, our data of self-perceived moral dilemmas from prison staff show an imbalance: security-related cases are clearly dominant, while the rehabilitation-related cases are underrepresented. Although our research did include teams involved in the rehabilitation of prisoners, we did not find a main theme with moral dilemmas related to ‘rehabilitation’. Also, rehabilitation dilemmas are not strongly present within other themes. Only a small number of cases reveal rehabilitation-related situations, where staff indicate feeling restricted in their ability to act in the interest of the prisoner, e.g., in trying to organize a father-child day for prisoners. However, in such cases the focus of the MCD participants was on moral dilemmas regarding other themes within the case, e.g., adequate cooperation with colleagues or correctly dealing with protocols. Prison work demands a high level of alertness regarding security issues, and security issues are indeed represented in a larger number of moral dilemmas. Security-related dilemmas are not only found in the main theme ‘security risks’, they are also indirectly present in many other (sub)themes. The indirect presence of security risks is seen in the context of a case, or as a consequence of actions. Often potentially unsafe situations show an impact on all persons involved: the individual prisoner, other prisoners, and prison staff. For example, when prisoners create a commotion or reveal plans to escape. The perspective of ensuring the safety of society is rarely mentioned in the description of the situations and moral dilemmas. For example, in a case where a prisoner violates the rules while on leave, the focus is on deviations from protocol rather than the security aim regarding society. It may have been discussed during MCD, but was not mentioned in the evaluation forms. It is remarkable how often dilemmas refer to cooperation challenges among prison staff. We observe many cases, in different main themes, in which ‘speaking up to each other or not’ is the central dilemma. Cooperation-related challenges are mostly seen in the main themes of ‘addressing work climate’ (VIII) and ‘mutual coordination’ (IX). Prison staff express the need to be backed up and be able to trust colleagues at all times. 2

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