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New book, The Good Prison, featuring Good Vibrations

Gerard Lemos, a highly respected author, prison policy expert and Co-Director of social policy thinktank Lemos & Crane, has a new book out, The Good Prison.

In it he argues that conscience, formed by family relationships and reinforced through community life, is vital to enable “offenders” to move on to more constructive lives and that prison’s crucial role is to help prisoners change how they see themselves: simply training for employment will never be enough.

The book includes a study of Good Vibrations.  Gerard sees our work as an “implausible activity” yet “a powerful therapeutic intervention”. He describes his visit to see Good Vibrations in action at HMP Dartmoor, including talking to some of the participants :

“They mentioned the sense of achievement, benefits to their self esteem, how they felt less stressed when they returned to the cell.  But, above all, they returned time and again to the benefits or listening and working together.  These are two qualities not readily associated with prison life, but essential qualities for life on the outside, in particular in the modern workplace”.

He concludes that unlike so much in prison life:

“a gamelan workshop contains no stigma, no label, just the suggestion of creativity, originality…. and that is isn very short supply among the routines and mundanities of prison life.  The positioning of the gamelan workshop also focuses on capabilities, rather than deficiencies.”