New paper addresses concept of penal drift

Treforest - Pontypridd Campus

Professors Kate Williams and Mike Maguire have written a paper for The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice on the concept of ‘penal drift’ - the gradual adoption of criminal justice culture, language and working practices - in voluntary sector organisations (VSOs) commissioned to deliver services to offenders.

 It identifies increases in coerced attendance, obligations to report non-compliance, targets to reduce re-offending, and contracts to ‘process’ high caseloads, as factors behind such drift, which can jeopardise relationships with service users and the sector’s traditional ‘value-driven’ approach. 

It is concluded that most VSOs have so far managed to resist these threats and to balance contractual obligations with adherence to core values. However, this comes at a cost in staff time and energy and is difficult to sustain. There are concerns that the longer term effects may be quite damaging to the sector.

You can download the paper here.