Recreation or rehabilitation? Managing sport for development programs with prison populations

David Gallant, Emma Sherry, Matthew Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


The provision of sport and recreation programs to inmates within the prison system provides a unique context to investigate the role of sport in enacting social change. Three main aims of prison-based sport programs have been identified in research: inmate health and wellbeing, inmate rehabilitation, and inmate management. This paper presents four case studies of sport programs in prisons across Australia. Inmates completed qualitative interviews in order to investigate program outcomes, design, and delivery. Although the participants in the four case studies came from substantially different prison populations (male, female, Indigenous, intellectual disability, general population) and geographic locations, there were key themes across the groups. Outcomes for both inmates and prisons tended to focus on inmate health and wellbeing and inmate management. Sport and recreation programs appeared to have a positive influence on inmates’ health and behaviour; however, the efficacy of rehabilitation efforts through sport remains uncertain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-56
Number of pages12
JournalSport Management Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • At-risk populations
  • Offender management
  • Offender rehabilitation
  • Prisons
  • Sport for development

Cite this