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Int J Prison Health. 2017 Mar 13;13(1):19-24. doi: 10.1108/IJPH-08-2016-0036.

The potential of prison-based democratic therapeutic communities.

Author information

HM Prison Grendon and Springhill, Aylesbury, UK.
University of Oxford , Oxford, UK.


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe the work of HMP Grendon, the only prison in the UK to operate entirely as a series of democratic therapeutic communities and to summarise the research of its effectiveness. Design/methodology/approach The paper is both descriptive, providing an overview of the work of a prison-based therapeutic community, and offers a literature review regarding evidence of effectiveness. Findings The work of HMP Grendon has a wide range of positive benefits including reduced levels of disruption in prison, reduced self-harm, improved well-being, an environment that is experienced as more humane and reduced levels of reoffending. Originality/value The work of HMP Grendon offers a well established and evidenced approach to managing men who have committed serious violent and sexually violent offences. It also promotes and embodies a progressive approach to managing prisons rooted in the welfare tradition.


Criminal justice system; Prison; Prison psychiatry; Prisoners; Psychological health; Rehabilitation

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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