Monitoring prisoners preparing for release: who ‘fails’ in open prison conditions?

Gary Goodley, Dominic Pearson

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Open prisons play a vital role in offender rehabilitation and resettlement but absconds, temporary release failures (TRFs) and re-offences have damaging implications for the legitimacy of these institutions. Identifying and mitigating the risk for such ‘failures’ is crucial. The present study examined predictors of failure in a sample of 316 adult male prisoners in two open prisons in England and Wales. Almost one-third (n = 100) of the sample failed in open conditions, the greatest proportion (n = 83, 26.3%) instigated by the prison to maintain security and good order (security recall). Yet, only seven re-offended in the year following custodial release. Absconds, custodial re-offences, and TRFs were rare events. Regression analysis identified five factors predicting security recall. Current behaviour, rather than static/historical risk factors, more reliably predicted such failures. Behavioural monitoring and systemic policy re-evaluation are proposed as way of mitigating failures in open prisons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-273
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Criminology
Issue number2
Early online date2 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024


  • Abscond
  • behaviour monitoring
  • open prisons
  • recidivism
  • risk management
  • temporary release failure

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