‘You just get on with the job’: Prison officers’ experiences of deaths in custody in the Irish Prison Service

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Abstract

Throughout their careers, prison officers encounter a variety of incidents, ranging from those that are quickly resolvable to major disturbances requiring a coordinated response. Among the most serious events to occur inside a prison is the death of a prisoner. When a prisoner dies in custody, prison officers will usually be first on the scene, and play a central role in the immediate response to the death. Officers also remain enduringly connected to the incident beyond the immediate aftermath; their contributions are often of critical importance to the various investigations convened following a prisoner’s death. While recent decades have seen the expansion in understanding of prison officers, as researchers turn their attention to the working lives and cultures of prison staff, studies of officers’ experiences of deaths in custody remain scant. Moreover, the few existing examinations of officers’ accounts of prisoner deaths have tended to focus on self-inflicted deaths only, leaving very little known about officers’ encounters with other causes of death.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53
Number of pages60
JournalPrison Service Journal
Volume230
Early online date2 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2017

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