Faith Inside: An Ethnographic Exploration of Kainos Community, HMP The Verne
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
In April 1997 Kainos Community in HMP The Verne, Dorset, England became the first faith-based prison unit to be established in the Western world . The foundations and ethos of Kainos are based on Christian concepts of ‘loving your neighbour’ and forgiveness. The community operates as a hybrid therapeutic community (TC) and cognitive behavioural programme (CBP). It is open to and inclusive of prisoners of all faiths and none. The aim of this study is to explore the Kainos community ethnographically, guided by the principles of grounded theory and thematic analysis, in order to investigate whether or not Kainos ameliorates some of the de-humanising aspects of prison, and if so, how it rehumanises the prison space. Theoretically, this study highlights the dehumanisation of imprisonment, and illuminates the role that a holistic, Christian-based approach can play in terms of making the prison environment ‘more human’. My findings reveal that on Kainos there are physical, liminal and spiritual spatial mechanisms, in which a family of sub-themes interact to enable flourishing to occur. Kainos has created a physical space in which spaces of architecture and design; sensory experience; movement; and home interact to enable flourishing, whereby prisoners feel ‘more homely’, ‘free’, safe, and calm. Kainos has created a liminal space in which spaces of atmosphere; identity; home; and creativity interact to enable flourishing, empowering prisoners in their self-expression; as a cathartic tool; and as a means of regaining or creating a new identity. Kainos has created a spiritual space in which spaces of Christian activism, love, and forgiveness enable self-worth, healing, transformation, and meaningful change. The implication is that Kainos has created spaces of flourishing, safety and peace within an otherwise dehumanising carceral space, and this plays an important role in the process of transformational change imperative in the desistance process. If society must have prisons, this study concludes that Kainos provides a model for how they should be.
Whetter, L. (2015) ''To Thine Own Self Be True': Having Faith in the Prison Researcher' in Drake, D., H., Earle, R. and Sloan, J. (2015) The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Ethnography: London: Palgrave Macmillan. 326-346.
PhD in Geography