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Towards a typology of prisoners' awareness of and familiarity with prison inspection and monitoring bodies

van der Valk, S., Aizpurúa, E. ORCID: 0000-0001-7045-5535 & Rogan, M. (2021). Towards a typology of prisoners' awareness of and familiarity with prison inspection and monitoring bodies. European Journal of Criminology, 20(1), pp. 228-250. doi: 10.1177/1477370821998940


Inspection and monitoring bodies have an important role in the protection of prisoners’ rights. Although these bodies are seen as widely beneficial, there is limited research examining their operations in practice. This study addresses this gap in the existing literature by identifying unique profiles of prisoners based on their familiarity with prison oversight bodies. In addition, the relationship between profiles and key factors (personal characteristics, sentence-related variables and those related to life in prison) was examined using multinomial regression. Participants were 508 males randomly selected from three prisons in Ireland. Data were collected between November 2018 and February 2019, using self-administered surveys. Latent class analysis revealed four subgroups of prisoners characterized by distinct patterns of awareness and contact with prison oversight bodies: (1) Low familiarity (44.1 percent); (2) High awareness with low contact (26.4 percent); (3) High familiarity with the Visiting Committees but low with other oversight bodies (14.2 percent); and (4) High familiarity (15.4 percent). Notably, the largest group was the low familiarity group, and few prisoners belonged to the high familiarity group. Nationality, sentence length, confidence in staff and complaint usage were linked to class membership. The results of this study point to the importance of increasing awareness of inspection and monitoring bodies among prisoners in general, and among certain groups in particular.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Publisher Keywords: Human rights, inspection, latent class analysis, monitoring, prison, prisoners’ rights
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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