Font Size: A A A

Home > Reviews > Tackling Correctional Corruption

Tackling Correctional Corruption

Author Andrew Goldsmith, Mark Halsey, Andrew Groves

ISBN No 978-1-137-49007-0

Review date 16/06/2019

No of pages 184

Publisher Palgrave

Publisher URL

Year of publication 05/09/2016


Tackling Correctional Corruption Authors: Andrew Goldsmith, Mark Halsey, Andrew Groves ISBN 978-1-137-49007-0

Our Review


£ 49.99 (ebook), hardback £63

Prisons are little studied and reported on, let alone as a place where the prison warders are drawn into workplace-related corruption. Three Australian criminologists have taken on ‘correctional corruption’, writing after visits to prisons in the UK besides Australia.

Their book Tackling Correctional Corruption, in the now long-running and continually important security management series edited by Prof Martin Gill, open with the striking comment by a manager in a prison; that 80 per cent of those working inside should not have been working there. Why? the authors asked. Because, the manager replied, they were scared to come to work. That all’s not well leads to ‘inappropriate relationships’ goods trafficked, such as mobile phones and illegal (or indeed legal) drugs; and bribery and fiddles generally. Why should we in wider society care, about that, or anything inside prisons? The authors make the case that prisoners are inside cell blocks to be controlled (let alone rehabilitated and punished); if prisoners can use mobile phones and run their criminal businesses much as they did at liberty, isn’t society not only preventing the prisoner from doing more crimes, during his sentence, but in effect putting a roof over their head?! Corruption isn’t all for the benefit of the prisoner, however; if ‘correctional client information’, the prisoner’s record, is recorded wrongly or accessed inappropriately, that could be for the worse for the prisoner. But is that right. In other words, integrity of personal data matters on the inside as well as in free society.

And - with applications to other workplaces - the authors argue that prison staff resist cases of corruption being found out and acted upon. Or in the authors’ words, there’s ‘a systemic inclination to obfuscation and avoidance’.

Finally the authors call for what they term ‘correctional integrity’, ‘a notion broader than employing effective anti-corruption measures, or than even simply the idea of all personnel within corrections complying with the rules and regulations applicable to the performance of their roles’. The authors are realistic to add that there’s ‘no practicable prospect of eliminating all instances or forms of correctional corruption’; instead, it’s about agreeing on priorities. Some corruption may be necessary or even desirable in prisons, they say, intriguingly; by that they mean for instance turning a blind eye to smoking marijuana, if it makes prisoners more compliant. But is a smoothly running prison a good one, or in truth running with an 'acceptable' level of corruption?! And as in any number of workplaces, what is the experience of workers who blow the whistle on wrong-doing?!

The idea of 'integrity', while some may find it vague, or vaguer than training staff or checking for good practice, is an interesting one, as we can point to sports such as horse racing and cricket as having the same goal of 'integrity', that is, on guard and active against threats to integrity, such as doping of athletes, and illegal betting, and corruption of players and officials, by bookmakers, to get the results that suit them. Tackling Correctional Corruption is altogether an informative and welcome book.