Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research

Offender and/or client? Fuzzy institutional identities in prison-based drug treatment in Denmark

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The last 20 years has witnessed a rise in prison-based drug treatment in Nordic countries. This increase has challenged the prominence of the punitive prison, and created changes in the roles of both clients and staff. This article explores the development of two institutional inmate identities: the offender and the client, which have occurred as a consequence of this shift in prison policy. However, in their institutional narratives and daily practice both prison officers and counsellors often fluctuate when addressing inmates as offenders and/or clients. This fluctuation creates a “fuzzy” dynamic. These institutional identities are characterized, on the one hand, by inmates being dealt with by counsellors as ‘real people' and ‘equals’, but simultaneously counsellors are resorting to the control opportunities allowed by the prison authorities such as urine tests and the use of isolation cells. On the other hand, prison officers handle inmates within a disciplinary logic, while concurrently dealing with them as inmates deserving a fair chance – a view resonant with the drug treatment ideology applied in prisons.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPunishment & Society
Pages (from-to)131-150
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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