Confronting neoliberal penality: placing prison reform and critical criminology at the core of social work's social justice agenda

GARRETT Paul Michael
Journal article citation:
Journal of Social Work, 16(1), 2016, pp.83-103.

Summary: Social work practitioners and educators should be more attentive to the expansion of the penal estate occurring across a number of jurisdictions. The article presents an overview of the crisis in prisons within one European state, the Republic of Ireland. Findings: Relying on official sources and critical commentaries on those sources, six factors are highlighted: the growth in prisoner numbers; the cost of imprisonment; ‘inhuman and degrading’ conditions prisoners are subjected to; particular hardships faced by specific groups of detainees; the changing role of probation services; the lack of robust, independent inspection mechanisms. Application: The value base of the profession and its commitment to the promotion of social justice could prompt social workers to become better informed about the growth of the penal estate and more intent on campaigning for better conditions for prisoners and their families and less reliance on incarceration. (Publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
prisons, social work, probation service, social workers, professional role, professionals, criminal justice;
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