A Return With Research – Prison Architecture and Public Opinion

After a long stint away from blogging, I thought that I would return with a post on what I have been doing with my time . My main activity has been researching and writing my dissertation. After achieving a decent grade for my work I thought I would share it for anyone who may be interested…

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Discovering Public Opinion of Prison Architecture

For a long time prison architecture has been an important part of the penal system, with the potential to either hinder or help the running of any type of prison system. Following a series of high profile objections from the general public of some prison regimes, Jack Straw stated that all things relating to the penal system must pass the public acceptability test. This, however, has not occurred in relation to proposed designs of prisons. My research therefore aimed to fill a gap in knowledge, attempting to discover the public’s opinions on prison architecture and design. This research is significant due to proposals for new prison designs often enter political discourse in an attempt to deal with the issue of prison overcrowding.

My study made use of a cross-sectional design, chosen due to its low cost and expedient nature. Participants were gathered using a snowball sampling method. Although typically criticised for a lack of representativeness and generalisability due to creating and elite sample, this was to some degree avoided. This was through sending the surveys to buisnesses and community groups as well as individuals that the researcher knew. Data was gathered using online surveys which made use of image methodology. Image methodology was used due to information emerging from the literature review that the majority of the general public have not come into contact with a prison and thus will not have seen the interior of a prison. So in order to gain participants opinions on the architecture and design of different prisons, images and photographs were required to illustrate what different types of prisons look like.

The research findings were similar to previous research on public opinion of other areas of the penal system.  Opinion on prison architecture and design when looking narrowly appeared to be punitive, yet when looking broadly at all of the responses, many of them were contradictory and unfixed.  When responses were looked at in relation to gender categories, the findings were rarely different.  However, when looked at in relation to age groups, not all groups gave punitive responses, with the 21-30 age group in particular providing a mixture of punitive and lenient responses.

It was concluded that opinions are rarely fixed and appear to be influenced by many other factors.

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So there is a brief entry of the results of many months of hard work. If you would like any more information regarding the research, or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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