Penal transformation in post-devolution Scotland: change and resistance
Morrison, Katrina Munsterhjelm
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This thesis seeks to understand and theorise the process of penal transformation, using changes in penal policy within post-devolution Scotland as a case study. It is based on an in-depth analysis of the evolution, passage and implementation of the Management of Offenders etc. (Scotland) Act 2005, including interviews with key players at each stage of the process (politicians, civil servants, practitioner groups) and documentary analysis. The thesis draws on Kingdon’s multiple streams framework to explain how rapid changes in policy can occur. Kingdon argued that the greatest changes occur when a policy window is opened which allows three independent streams which run through policy at any one time, politics, problems and policies, to become joined (1995). However the thesis argues that to account fully for transformation, this framework needs to be developed to incorporate analysis of institutional structures which provide the most compelling explanation for the factors which lead to, escalate and impede change. Although structures are central in this analysis however, this thesis shows how both structure and agency are important in penal change: institutional structure forms the parameters in which political choice is made. Pre-devolution policy-making was carried out in partnership between civil servants and agencies and the rate of change was incremental. Post-devolution criminal justice policy-making has been thrust into a volatile and politicised environment, although this has varied under the different administrations thus far. The primary reason for the accelerated rate of change that occurred following devolution was because of the creation of new democratic structures which provided the means and the incentives to create rapid change but it also involved explicitly political choices by key members of the Scottish Executive. Somewhat paradoxically, once change was instigated, the structure of post-devolution political institutions became critical in mitigating the pace and rate of change. The existence of PR electoral arrangements together with the relative decentralisation of power (in relation to the ownership of criminal justice services) meant that change had to be achieved through negotiation and compromise. Institutional structure is also important in the extent of the Parliament’s ability to form any meaningful veto point on executive power. Overall it was new democratic structures combined with a political capacitybuilding project and the availability of a politicised approach to law and order from England and Wales which could be easily translated to Scotland, which together, explain the period of rapid change in Scotland during this time.