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'It was like an animal in pain': Institutional thoughtlessness and bereavement in prison

Wilson, Marion; Johnston, Helen; Walker, Liz

Authors

Marion Wilson



Abstract

Using the concept of institutional thoughtlessness, this article examines a range of issues embedded within daily prison life which have a detrimental effect upon the lives of those bereaved during a prison sentence. Drawing on in-depth qualitative research undertaken with bereaved prisoners, staff members and volunteers at a male prison in the North of England, the article explores how individual and institutional goals compete, compounding bereavement experiences and the management of grief. Findings demonstrate the tension between the policies and protocols prisons are tasked to follow, and unintended consequences for the individually bereaved. This article illuminates the need for far greater understanding of bereavement in the prison population and explores how a universal life experience can be particularly debilitating within the prison setting with the potential to exacerbate what is often cumulative loss among prisoners.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal Criminology & criminal justice
Print ISSN 1748-8958
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Wilson, M., Johnston, H., & Walker, L. (in press). 'It was like an animal in pain': Institutional thoughtlessness and bereavement in prison. Criminology & criminal Justice, https://doi.org/10.1177/1748895820930755
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/1748895820930755
Keywords Bereavement; Excessive grief;Prisoner; Prison regime; Prison staff
Publisher URL https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1748895820930755

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Accepted for publication in Criminology and criminal justice (237 Kb)
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