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The Good Prison: Projects and partnerships


Prisons are not only about punishment and life in prison needs to do more than wipe the slate clean of offending behaviour and destructive habits. If prisoners are going to turn their lives around permanently time in prison should be an opportunity for prisoners to think about themselves and their lives in a different way. Life, relationships and activities in prison should help the prisoner to build a commitment to the person they intend to become building on the best aspects of themselves while reducing the impact and consequences of past offending and negative behaviour. 

Most prisoners need to:

  • to reinforce positive aspects of their identity 
  • to build and sustain positive relationships with partners, children, family and friends
  • participate in activities and experiences that help them to make fundamental changes in their identity, mindset and prospects for the future. 
  • receive support from staff and managers working together in prison who are clear, consistent and encouraging

The Good Prison Concept

Since 2007 PrisonerActionNet has brought together thousands of people working in prison. Through this growing network we have developed a comprehensive, holistic model of the ethos and activities for prisons and prisoners to help them to build a better life for the future.  We have called this model the Good Prison.  As well as being about improving the lives of prisoners and their prospects for the future, the Good Prison is also about the attitudes and behaviour of everyone who works in and leads prisons.  The motivation, resolution and resilience of prisoners themselves are also crucial factors in bringing about the Good Prison. We believe that a Good Prison would have the activities and characteristics set out below to give prisoners opportunities to turn their lives around permanently:

  • Restorative justice and making amends to victims, families and communities
  • Supporting prisoners as partners, parents and family members
  • Activities to inculcate and reinforce empathy with victims, their own families and the wider community
  • Spirituality and mindfulness; reflection and contemplation
  • Reflective and collaborative creative and artistic practice and expression as a way of understanding yourself better and thinking about your identity in the future in a different way
  • Access to the wellbeing benefits of nature

This would be in addition to the more mainstream forms of support that prisoners should receive including:

  • training and skills for employment
  • support for those experiencing mental health problems
  • support for prisoners substance misuse and drug abuse
  • Interventions to address offending behaviour


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