Date of Submission



Over 60 years ago Mr L. Nott, the Comptroller-General of New South Wales prisons, observed that prisoners do not change because the state wants them to change, but because they are not ready to change. He emphasised that what happens in the internal world of the prisoner affects their ability to change more than anything the correctional system can do. This thesis looks to the internal world of a small group of remand prisoners (called 'defenders') and examines how they express their readiness for change. This study examines defenders' strengths: what is right with them rather than what is wrong with them. The paucity of literature on what is right with prisoners attests to the monolithic influence of a deficit model in contemporary correctional rehabilitation. This study provides, from a review of previous research, both a conceptual and a methodological framework to look for readiness for positive life change in defenders. This qualitative research employs a narrative methodology for data collection, and examines the stories of nine defenders. A grounded theory design guides data collection and analysis, and from this analysis, five indicators of readiness emerge. Triangulating the indicators against data collected from staff and the theoretical insights from the literature suggests the indicators have strong internal and conceptual validity. Being able to identify readiness for positive life change in defenders has important implications for the theory and practice of correctional rehabilitation. This thesis argues that correctional rehabilitation may be more effective if correctional systems identify and support defenders who are ready for change. Such an approach would require significant changes to the way correctional rehabilitation is conducted. These changes have implications for the culture of correctional organisations, how successful rehabilitation is defined, and how resources are allocated.;The thesis also presents avenues for further research.


School of Education

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


668 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Education