1st Edition

Social Skills in Prison and the Community Problem-Solving for Offenders

    ‘Gate fever’ is the name of a non-medical syndrome said to infect men in prison as the date of their discharge draws near. Its symptoms are euphoria and anxiety, mixed with irrational thinking; and the unfailing cure of the condition is the cold douche of reality which awaits the victim outside the prison gate. The primary aim of this book, originally published in 1984, is to describe and promote social-skills-based methods for helping offenders cope better with the problems they face in the community: finding and keeping work and accommodation, managing money and leisure time, getting on with other people and, in some cases, controlling their drinking or violent behaviour.

    Based on an action-research project undertaken with nearly four hundred men in Ranby and Ashwell prisons and at the Sheffield day training centre, the book outlines the origins of the project, the design and development of course materials, and the training of prison officers and probation staff to administer them. It looks at the characteristics of the men who took part in the experiment and at their problems, and details the content and conduct of the courses in practice. The results of the work are also reported, often in the words of the men who made use of the methods. Overall offending rates were not reduced but violent offenders at Ranby were less likely to be re-convicted of violent offences after release.

    One of the outcomes of the project was a model for working with offenders which has spread to other prisons and probation areas. A final chapter discusses the difficulties of doing innovative work in penal establishments and makes suggestions for developing social skills work with prisoners and probationers.

    Acknowledgments.  1. The Problem and a Project  2. Design and Development  3. Training the Staff  4. The Offenders and their Problems  5. Methods and Materials  6. The Conduct of the Courses  7. The Results of the Courses  8. Afterwards  9. Problems and Prospects.  Appendixes.  Notes.  Bibliography.  Index.


    Philip Priestley, James McGuire, David Flegg, Valerie Hemsley, David Welham and Rosemary Barnitt