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Prison Officer Training and Practice in Nigeria

NCJ Number
Punishment & Society Volume: 9 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2007 Pages: 253-269
Andrew M. Jefferson
Date Published
July 2007
17 pages
This study explored prison officer training and the penal philosophy and practices within the Nigerian Prisons Service.
The analysis indicates that prison guards challenge the discipline, order, and hierarchy of prison training practice at different levels on a daily basis. Prison guards were engaged in a variety of contention practices that allowed them to negotiate their own position in relation to the practices imposed on them. Prison officers working in certain areas of the prison often had a great deal of discretion granted to them, which allowed them to subvert the best laid plans of prison administration. Additionally, the analysis revealed that prison guards not only found themselves at odds with the prison administration, but with the prisoners too. Many prison guards expressed ambivalence about their role and an aversion to punishing prisoners. The analysis thus suggests that the ideology of the prison system was not ingrained in new prison officer trainees, with the result being that the prison system was internally diverse rather than homogenous. The author suggests that the contested nature of penal practices in Nigeria may encourage reform from within rather than having reform imposed from the outside. Reform strategies are presented that draw on the contradictions and ambiguities of prison practice as a starting point. The research methodology involved 8 months of ethnographic/observational fieldwork conducted among prison officers in Nigeria. The analysis focused on the contradictions within prison training practice as well as the structure and organization of the training and how it produced particular relations and positions among prison officer trainees. Notes, references