• Heavenly Confinement?. The Role and Perception of Christian Prison Chaplains in North-East England's Prisons

Lambert Academic Publishing
Publication date:

(David Scott teaches on a number of prison and punishment modules at the University of Central Lancashire. He is currently the co-ordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control.)


The role and perception of the prison chaplain is shrouded in mystery. While recognised as playing an important part in the development of the penitentiary and enshrined in law as one of the three officers of the prison (with the governor and medical officer), the chaplain has been relatively marginalised in recent sociological accounts of prison life. This study includes the testimonies of twelve Christian prison chaplains serving in six prisons in the North East of England. Their opinions have been combined with those of a number of prisoners and prison staff so that a comprehensive analysis of the role and perception of the chaplain in the six prisons can be attained. Drawing upon Liberation Theology, Neo-Marxist analysis and penal abolitionist perspectives, the case is made for a radical rethink of imprisonment, highlighting the potential role that the prison chaplain can perform in challenging these brutalising and dehumanising institutions.

MATERIA: Prisons; Christian Chaplains; Abolitionism; Neo-Marxism; Prison Ethnography; Liberation Theology