MQPL I: Limitations - Global Centre for Evidence

Report
Making the most of prisons research:
an appreciative inquiry
Alison Liebling
Cambridge Institute of Criminology
Prisons Research Centre
30 September 2013
Questions
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What is a Prisons Research Centre (or a Global
Centre for Evidence-Based Corrections and
Sentencing Research)?
What is a Prisons Research Centre for ..? (‘Grow a
generation of highly competent prisons research
scholars’); quality and outcomes
What does good prisons research look like?
What ‘goes on..’ on a good research day?
What sorts of structural, intellectual and organisational
arrangements support good research?
What is the (vital) role of PhD students?
How does research become cumulative?
What has worked for us…
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‘This is high-risk research. We want an exploratory
piece of work. We don’t want mechanical research.
We don’t like the designs we have seen. We want to
know, have we got a problem, and if so, what sort of
problem? We want someone like you to do it. Your
kind of thinking and previous work.’ (MOJ).
Harding’s endorsement: instantly recognisable
carefully conducted combined qualitative/quantitative
methodology .. 
Throughcare, suicide (4), difficult prisoners (2),
privatisation (3), staff-prisoner relationships, the work
of prison officers, IEP, leadership and faith identity ..
Miles Raymond on Pinot Noir
(“Sideways”):-
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Maya: Why are you so in to Pinot?... I mean, it's like a thing with you.
Miles Raymond: [laughing softly]
Miles Raymond: Uh, I don't know, I don't know. Um, it's a hard grape
to grow, as you know. Right? It's uh, it's thin-skinned, temperamental,
ripens early. It's, you know, it's not a survivor like Cabernet, which can
just grow anywhere and uh, thrive even when it's neglected. No, Pinot
needs constant care and attention. You know? And in fact it can only
grow in these really specific, little, tucked away corners of the world.
And, and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it,
really. Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot's
potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh
its flavors, they're just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and
subtle and... ancient on the planet.
Appreciative Inquiry
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Discovers what is life affirming in indiv/organisation
Exceptional but real experiences: the positive core of experience
‘Tell me about an aspect of yourself, or your life that you are most proud
of..’
‘What is the most rewarding experience you have had since coming
here?’
‘Tell me about the most positive experience you have had with a
member of staff since coming here…’
Builds trust. ‘Asking such questions, in the darkest places, can
“significantly influence the destiny of our social theory ..”’ (Ludema et al
2001; Liebling, forthcoming)
The unconditional positive question ‘ignites transformative dialogue and
action’, and enriches understanding.
Builds ‘grounded generative theory’, language of possibility.
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Some models:
e.g. Richard Sparks and Will Hay
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Doing time in Wakefield, Albany Long Lartin
Sparks, Bottoms and Hay (1996) Prisons and
the Problem of Order
A sociologically imaginative exploration
A dialogic model
Outcome: changes of perspective and selfunderstandings
Operationalisation and quantification follows
later .. (legitimacy and order/well-being)
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Qu: What research (or piece of writing) has
most helped you in your professional
practice? Does anything in particular stand
out?
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the original Whitemoor work on the work of prison officers
Sarah Tait’s work on care in prison officers
Prisons and their moral performance
Various suicide prevention studies
Charles Elliott’s work on AI and change management
Our work on values and practices in leadership
Shadd/Fergus’ work on desistance (‘Desistance theory now
underpins everything we do’; Senior manager)
‘The fact that we systematically, through MQPL, ask prisoners
whether they feel they have been treated with kindness seems
to me to be hugely symbolic both of the way we still seek to
manage prisons and a historic willingness to apply research 8
intelligently to that task’. (Senior manager)
Good prisons research
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‘Good research is getting as close as
you can to understanding, describing
and explaining the experience of
others/the organisation without anyone
getting hurt’.
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And finally… some questions:
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What are the most important research questions?
what kinds of relationships should good prison
scholars have with the field, with gatekeepers, and
the consumers of research?
Who are the key consumers of research?
What grows professional trust?
Are there ways in which the funding or organisation
and management of prisons research could secure
more of the most useful and insightful variety?
What would a ‘best’ future prisons research agenda
look like?
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There are identifiable aspects of prison life and quality that differ significantly
and that promote or impede personal development or human flourishing.
Personal development is a meaningful goal for prisons to pursue. It is not
easily achievable.
It is possible that increased personal development might build resilience
against fundamentalist or extremist belief systems as well as reduce the risk
of offending in general, and prison suicide.
It is important to define, operationalise and test the concept of personal
development (or human flourishing) and what supports it more precisely.
A risk-based penal system is unlikely to support personal development, as
risk management strategies tend to communicate disrespectfully and
negatively about the offender’s ‘being’, to be past-centred rather than futureoriented and to constrain potentially important relationships with change
agents.
And in the community…?
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‘Transformation’ effects of imprisonment
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Suicide
Disorder
Reoffending
Radicalisation
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psychological survival
a reduction in the risk of
harm to others
improved mental health
or well-being;
resilience to extremist
ideologies linked to
violence.
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The more damaging prisons in each case
share certain characteristics:
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Disorganised
Staff are resistant to positive work with offenders (and
often in conflict)
Regimes are impoverished
The culture is indifferent or worse.
Fear (among both staff and prisoners) and violence.
Preoccupations with safety and survival dominate;
Opportunities are few
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Negative emotional states are common.
Revised dimensions measuring the moral quality of prison life
(Liebling, Crewe and Hulley 2011)
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Harmony
Entry into custody
Respect/courtesy
Staff-Prisoner relationships
Humanity
Decency
Care for the vulnerable
Help and assistance
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Professionalism
Staff professionalism
Bureaucratic legitimacy
Fairness
Organisation and consistency
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Security
Policing and security
Prisoner safety
[Prisoner adaptation]
[Drugs and exploitation]
Conditions and Family Contact
Regime decency
Family contact
Wellbeing and Development
Personal development
Personal autonomy
Wellbeing
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The distinctive characteristics of our study
(ethnography-led measurement) are:
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(i) the prisoner-led identification of the dimensions and wording of
the items;
(ii) the cumulative nature of the work and its grounding in specific
investigations of outcomes such as suicide;
iii) the taking into account of contemporary developments in the
prison experience;
iv) an emphasis on good uses of power, and the operationalisation of this, rather than an exclusive focus on quantity
v) an avoidance of any reliance upon official statistics; and
vi) our work does not have its origins in psychiatric treatment or
management studies but is primarily sociological.
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A – ‘Poor’
B – ‘Average’
C – ‘Good’
D – ‘Very Good’
Private
Trainer
Private
Trainer
Private Local
Public Local
Public Trainer
Private Trainer
Private Local
Dovegate
Rye Hill
Forest Bank
Bullingdon
Garth
Lowdham
Grange
Altcourse
Respect/
courtesy 3.01
Prisoner safety
3.24
Respect/
courtesy 3.07
Care for the
vulnerable
3.01
Prisoner safety
3.32
Drugs and
exploitation
3.02
Respect/
courtesy 3.18
Staff-prisoner
relationships
3.10
Care for the
vulnerable 3.10
Staff
professionalism
3.18
Prisoner safety
3.32
Respect/
courtesy 3.24
Staff-prisoner
relationships
3.15
Care for the
vulnerable 3.27
Help and
assistance 3.22
Staff
professionalism
3.24
Policing and
security 3.35
Prisoner safety
3.46
Respect/
courtesy 3.29
Staff-prisoner
relationships
3.17
Humanity 3.08
Care for the
vulnerable 3.15
Help and
assistance 3.05
Staff
professionalism
3.25
Policing and
security 3.26
Prisoner safety
3.36
Personal
development
3.04
Personal
autonomy 3.04
Entry into custody
3.21
Respect/courtesy
3.47
Staff-prisoner
relationships 3.27
Humanity 3.17
Decency 3.30
Care for the
vulnerable 3.24
Help and assistance
3.20
Staff
professionalism
3.27
Policing and
security 3.22
Prisoner safety 3.57
Drugs and
exploitation 3.22
Personal
development 3.07
Personal autonomy
3.14
Wellbeing 3.19
Entry into custody
3.10
Respect/courtesy
3.48
Staff-prisoner
relationships 3.45
Humanity 3.27
Decency 3.38
Care for the
vulnerable 3.44
Help and
assistance 3.37
Staff
professionalism
3.53
Fairness 3.15
Organisation and
consistency 3.08
Policing and
security 3.27
Prisoner safety
3.48
Personal
development 3.28
Personal
autonomy 3.22
Wellbeing 3.07
Personal Development (α = .875).
An environment that helps prisoners with offending behaviour,
preparation for release and the development of their potential.
Item
no
rq25
rq87
rq17
rq146
rq133
rq114
rq46
qq65
Item
Corr.
My needs are being addressed in this prison.
I am encouraged to work towards goals/targets in this prison.
I am being helped to lead a law-abiding life on release in the
community.
Every effort is made by this prison to stop offenders committing
offences on release from custody.
The regime in this prison is constructive.
My time here seems like a chance to change.
This regime encourages me to think about and plan for my release.
On the whole I am doing time rather than using time.
(removal α = .877)
.690
.689
.683
.660
.650
.655
.592
.477
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Dimensions with the
most significant variation between prisons
Staff professionalism (p)
Organisation and consistency) (p)
Staff-prisoner relationships (h)
Fairness
Decency
Help and assistance (h)
Bureaucratic legitimacy (p)
Well being (w)
Personal development (w)
2.62 - 3.53
.91
2.23 - 3.08
.85
2.74 - 3.45
.71
2.46 - 3.15
.69
2.72 – 3.38 .66
2.74 - 3.37
.63
2.35 - 3.97
.62
2.57 – 3.19
.62
2.69 – 3.28 .59
Figure 4. Personal Development: An in-prison model 1
BUREAUCRATIC LEGITIMACY
HUMANITY
‘THE TRANSPARENCY AND RESPONSIVITY OF
THE PRISON/PRISON SYSTEM AND ITS MORAL
RECOGNITION OF THE INDIVIDUAL’
(3.97)
‘AN ENVIRONMENT CHARACTERISED
BY KIND REGARD AND CONCERN FOR
THE PERSON’
.144 ***
(3.27)
.166 ***
STAFF PROFESSIONALISM
‘STAFF CONFIDENCE AND
COMPETENCE IN THE USE OF
AUTHORITY’
PERSONAL
DEVELOPMENT
(‘HELP WITH THE
DEVELOPMENT OF
POTENTIAL’)
.145 ***
(3.53)
R2 = 69.2
(3.28)
HELP AND ASSISTANCE
‘SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT FOR
PROBLEMS, INCLUDING DRUGS,
HEALTHCARE + PROGRESSION’
.413 ***
.101 ***
(3.37)
ORGANISATION + CONSISTENCY
‘THE CLARITY, PREDICTABILITY AND
RELIABILITY OF THE PRISON’
(3.08)
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1
Controlling for function, + public/private ownership/management
Further reading
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Liebling, A (2013) ‘Legitimacy under pressure’ in high security prisons in J.
Tankebe and A. Liebling (eds) Legitimacy and Criminal Justice Oxford: Oxford
University Press, in press.
Liebling, A; assisted by Arnold, H (2004) Prisons and their Moral Performance: A
Study of Values, Quality and Prison Life Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Liebling, A., Hulley, S. and Crewe, B. (2011), ‘Conceptualising and Measuring the
Quality of Prison Life’, in Gadd, D., Karstedt, S. and Messner, S. (eds.) The Sage
Handbook of Criminological Research Methods. London: Sage.
Hulley, S., Liebling, A., and Crewe, B. (2012) 'Respect in prisons: Prisoners’
experiences of respect in public and private sector prisons', Criminology and
Criminal Justice, 12 (1), 3-23.
Liebling, A., Arnold, H and Straub, C (2012) An Exploration of Staff-Prisoner
Relationships at HMP Whitemoor: Twelve Years On, London: National Offender
Management Service
Liebling, A Tait, S (2005) ‘Revisiting prison suicide: the role of fairness and
distress’, in A Liebling and S Maruna 20
(eds) The Effects of Imprisonment Willan

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