Correctional officers as participants: Action research in prisons

Prisons are complex institutions with hierarchies of power. They are social systems that demand a research approach suited to their social structure. Custodial Correctional Officers play an integral role in these social systems and although they are perceived to have power over prisoners, they too are subject to controls and in some instances have minimal power.

This paper recounts a pilot project designed to promote positive pregnancy and birth experiences for pregnant female prisoners. The project team includes staff from a regional university, the local health service and the state run prison service.

Officers were recruited as project ‘champions’ because very early in the project it became evident that in addition to management patronage, the project needed the practical support of the Custodial Correctional Officers. 

 This article justifies and clarifies the use of action research methodology for this study conducted in two stages: involvement of the Custodial Correctional Officers as participants, and outcomes to inform policy and practice. In addition the study provides extraordinary learning opportunities for midwifery students. 

Abstract provided on behalf of the authors: Adele Baldwin, Clare Harvey, Elspeth Wood, Donna Bloice, Eileen Willis.

We invite you to learn more about this experience by reading our article HERE. Free two-week access is available for this article beginning 10 June. 

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