‘You can't tell anyone how you really feel’: Exploring emotion management and performance among prison staff who have experienced the death of a prisoner

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Abstract

This article explores how prison staff manage their emotions when dealing with the death of a prisoner. It seeks to extend current understandings of emotions in prison work by exploring emotion management and performance among prison staff who have experienced a prisoner's death. It utilises Hochschild's (1983) concept of emotional labour, which has informed previous studies of emotion in prison work, and contributes to this existing research by applying extensions of Hochschild's ideas developed by Bolton (2005) and Korczynski (2003). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 Irish Prison Service staff who have experienced prisoner deaths. A contribution of this article is that it demonstrates the shifting emotional practices and preoccupations of prison staff through the stages of dealing with a prisoner's death. This article finds that shared expectations regarding the management of emotional responses to prisoner deaths promote the necessity of concealing emotional vulnerabilities within and beyond the prison walls.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100364
JournalInternational Journal of Law, Crime and Justice
Volume61
Early online date18 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

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