• Signe Marie Janus Lundsted Hurup
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
Prison guards are amongst those professions in Denmark with the highest prevalence of at work violence and threats, and the numbers are rising. The prison guards work in a complex field. On the one hand they administer sentencing and must uphold security. On the other hand they have to show guidance to the prisoners to help them cope with their feelings and support them towards a life without crime.

This thesis explores how prison guards in a Danish jail prevent violence and threats through relational work with the prisoners. The offset of the thesis is three interviews with a focus group of employees with in a detention department. The analysis relies particularly on eight narratives concerning conflictual interactions with prisoners and how they were handled. The aim is to explore how the guards experience their ability to prevent violence and threats through the way they handle conflicts interacting with prisoners.

The thesis has an interactionist-constructionist theoretical base, and uses relevant research material in combination with the constructs of Erving Goffman on social interaction and behavior to answer the research question “in which ways can relational interactions between prison guard and prisoner in detention contribute to the prevention of violence and threats? “

The study shows that it’s a complex field in which the meetings are part of where context, including the time to attend the meetings, is important. The outcome of a conflicting meeting can be broadly divided into situations where the conflict can be solved through dialogue with the prisoner or situations where the officer has to take action to handle the situation. The study also points out that prevention seems to be based on silent knowledge.

Based on the analysis, it’s concluded that relational meetings between prison officers and inmates can help prevent violence and threats because the attendant in the meeting has the opportunity to influence the dispute over the conflict. Through dialogue and cooperation, the triggering factor for the conflict is addressed, not just behavior, which contributes to both short-term prevention now and here in the situation, and to long-term prevention of violence and threats because the problem of the problem is being solved.

Thus, how the officer assesses the situation is central to whether it is experienced as an opportunity to resolve the conflict in the meeting with the inmate. The assessment of the situation is due to verbal and non-verbal communication, and to a great extent also to the knowledge of the inmate where knowledge of past behavior is decisive for how the officer interprets the situation.

It is essential that the officer can maintain the calm in the situation. In the conflict aggressive behavior will infect the other in the meeting, why a calm officer can more easily escalate conflicts. Keeping calm is closely linked to the assessment of the situation because the officer can only be calm if he considers it safe to stay in the situation.
Publication date14 Sept 2018
Number of pages92
ID: 286956197