This chapter develops a model referred to as managerialism which characterised the management of prisons in Northern Ireland from the period after the 1980/1 hunger strikes until the present day. The distinct features of this model included an increased acceptance that the prison system could not defeat political violence and a tendency to view the management of paramilitary prisoners as a technical rather than ideological endeavour. It is argued that the Prison Service was increasingly affected by changes elsewhere in the British public sector designed to transform such bureaucracies into more efficient, effective, and value for money endeavours. While such changes did not directly impact on prison management until the late 1980s, they provided a legitimising framework or organisational language of scientific and instrumentalist discourses for a set of practices which had emerged independently in the prisons after the hunger strike era. The chapter also argues that managerialism was characterised by attempts to demarcate and limit the power of paramilitary prisoners, as well as the emergence of greater autonomy and self-confidence amongst prison managers in the formulation of policy with less ministerial interference.
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