The penal impact of community punishment in England and Wales: a conceptual and empirical study

Hayes, David John (2015) The penal impact of community punishment in England and Wales: a conceptual and empirical study. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis examines two research questions: firstly, how does community punishment impact upon the lives of those subjected to it; and secondly, to what extent is that impact affected by the relationship between the offender and her Probation Service supervisor? It considers these questions in both conceptual and empirical terms by outlining, and then deploying, the analytical framework of penal impact, an approach to penal severity that uses pain as a metric by which to judge the suitability of punitive interventions. By evaluating sentence severity in terms of penal impact, one can examine both the types of pain that follow from a particular sentence, as well as their relative magnitude, building up a qualitative comparison of different impositions of community punishment.

However, because pain is an inherently subjective concept, the evaluation of penal impact requires empirical data. This study therefore explores the findings of interviews with nine offenders and 11 supervision officers within a single Probation Trust. The data drawn from these interviews indicate a broad range of pains that vary considerably in their intensity and incidence from offender to offender. The study explores the question of the extent to which these pains can be associated with the formal process of punishment, the extent to which they can be considered punitive in a retributive sense, and the means by which such pains can be compared between subjective experiences. It concludes that the penal impact of community punishment in England and Wales is considerable, and goes substantially beyond the relatively ‘soft’ image suggested by a narrow, liberty-based conception of sentence severity. The process of supervision has a substantial effect upon the pains felt – and therefore, upon the sentence’s overall impact. The implications of these conclusions for sentencing policy in England and Wales are discussed, and avenues of further research are identified.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: van Zyl Smit, Dirk
Saunders, Candida
Keywords: community punishment, penal system, england, wales, community-based corrections, pain, punishment
Subjects: H Social sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Law
Item ID: 28294
Depositing User: Hayes, David
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2015 09:25
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2016 05:31

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