Life after prison: the experiences of prison officers serving during the Troubles in Northern Ireland

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JournalBehavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression
DatePublished - 2011
Issue number1
Volume3
Pages (from-to)20-34
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The men and women employed by the Northern Ireland prison service served through some of the most infamous events in the course of the 'Troubles'. In 1998 a downsizing initiative was launched which resulted in over 1000 prison personnel accepting early retirement packages. This study aimed to explore the experience of service life in Northern Ireland and investigate how the circumstances of retirement impact upon well-being. Ninty-nine retired prison officers participated in the study, 80% of whom were early retirees. Each participant completed several measures of well-being and a series of open-ended questions regarding their experiences of service life. Both early retirement from the prison service and the perception of being forced to retire were associated with greater psychological distress and lower self-esteem. Qualitative analysis revealed a high level of loyalty to the prison service and pride in the role of prison officer. However, participants also expressed feeling of rejection and disappointment in their subsequent treatment by the prison service and the government.

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