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Examining the functions of prison critical incidents: a preliminary qualitative analysis of public reporting

Examining the functions of prison critical incidents: a preliminary qualitative analysis of... The purpose of this paper is to explore the function of crisis incidents in prisons within the UK and USA. The incidents reviewed included riots and hostage incidents, focusing only on information that was available publically. It did not intend to capture official reports not in the public domain.Design/methodology/approachPublically available information on incidents were systematically reviewed. Functional assessment and grounded theory were employed to examine background factors, triggers and maintaining factors. In total, 25 crisis incidents were analysed (UK =10 and USA =15) from the past 30 years. It was predicted that crisis incidents would be motivated by negative and positive reinforcement, with negative more evidenced than positive. Precipitating factors (i.e. triggers) were predicted to include negative emotions, such as frustration and anger.FindingsSimilarities in triggers and background factors were noted between hostage taking and riot incidents. Positive reinforcement was primarily indicated. Riots appeared driven by a need to communicate, to secure power, rights, control and/or freedom, whereas for hostage taking these functions extended to capture the removal of negative emotions, to inflict pain, to punish/gain revenge, to effect a release, to manage boredom and to promote positive emotions.Research limitations/implicationsThe study is preliminary and focused on the reporting of incidents in publically available sources; consequently, the data are secondary in nature and further limited by sample size. Nevertheless, it highlights evidence for similarities between types of crisis incidents but also some important potential differences. The need to understand the protective factors preventing incidents and minimising harm during incidents is recommended.Practical implicationsIt highlights evidence for similarities between types of critical incidents but also some important potential differences. Understanding differences between incidents is important in the tailoring of specific policies to address these areas. Understanding motivation and reinforcement is valuable in working towards the prevention of critical incidents. Understanding the protective factors preventing incidents and minimising harm during incidents is recommended.Originality/valueThis is an under-researched area. The study contributes to the field not only by focusing on providing a detailed analysis of an under-used source (public reporting) but by also identifying where gaps in research remain. The results demonstrate the value in understanding incidents through their motivation, particularly in distinguishing between negative and positive reinforcement. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice Emerald Publishing

Examining the functions of prison critical incidents: a preliminary qualitative analysis of public reporting

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
2056-3841
DOI
10.1108/jcrpp-12-2017-0040
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to explore the function of crisis incidents in prisons within the UK and USA. The incidents reviewed included riots and hostage incidents, focusing only on information that was available publically. It did not intend to capture official reports not in the public domain.Design/methodology/approachPublically available information on incidents were systematically reviewed. Functional assessment and grounded theory were employed to examine background factors, triggers and maintaining factors. In total, 25 crisis incidents were analysed (UK =10 and USA =15) from the past 30 years. It was predicted that crisis incidents would be motivated by negative and positive reinforcement, with negative more evidenced than positive. Precipitating factors (i.e. triggers) were predicted to include negative emotions, such as frustration and anger.FindingsSimilarities in triggers and background factors were noted between hostage taking and riot incidents. Positive reinforcement was primarily indicated. Riots appeared driven by a need to communicate, to secure power, rights, control and/or freedom, whereas for hostage taking these functions extended to capture the removal of negative emotions, to inflict pain, to punish/gain revenge, to effect a release, to manage boredom and to promote positive emotions.Research limitations/implicationsThe study is preliminary and focused on the reporting of incidents in publically available sources; consequently, the data are secondary in nature and further limited by sample size. Nevertheless, it highlights evidence for similarities between types of crisis incidents but also some important potential differences. The need to understand the protective factors preventing incidents and minimising harm during incidents is recommended.Practical implicationsIt highlights evidence for similarities between types of critical incidents but also some important potential differences. Understanding differences between incidents is important in the tailoring of specific policies to address these areas. Understanding motivation and reinforcement is valuable in working towards the prevention of critical incidents. Understanding the protective factors preventing incidents and minimising harm during incidents is recommended.Originality/valueThis is an under-researched area. The study contributes to the field not only by focusing on providing a detailed analysis of an under-used source (public reporting) but by also identifying where gaps in research remain. The results demonstrate the value in understanding incidents through their motivation, particularly in distinguishing between negative and positive reinforcement.

Journal

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and PracticeEmerald Publishing

Published: Jul 4, 2018

Keywords: Critical incidents; Riots; Hostage taking; Prison aggression; Public reporting; SORC

References