From Punishment to Growth: Harnessing Lessons Learned from the UK and Malta

Annually, I make it a point to explore various correctional systems, both domestically and abroad, fueled by an insatiable curiosity and a dedication to lifelong learning. These visits are crucial for discovering innovative and actionable solutions in corrections, helping us integrate these global practices into our strategies at Social Purpose Corrections. In December 2023, an invitation from Dr. Sarah Lewis presented a unique opportunity to explore the transformative work being done within the United Kingdom and Malta’s prison systems. Inspired by the innovative initiatives of Penal Reform Solutions (PRS), this journey shed light on the transformative potential of reshaping challenging prison cultures into environments conducive to growth, rehabilitation, and successful reintegration into society.

Transformative Practices in the UK

Diving into the ethos of PRS, I experienced the application of Scandinavian-inspired principles in three UK prisons, highlighting dynamic security and a holistic approach to rehabilitation. The Growth Project, emblematic of PRS’s approach, cultivates environments that foster collaborative personal development among staff and residents. Paired with rigorous training and a focus on dynamic security, these practices demonstrate a profound commitment to driving positive change in correctional facilities.

HM Prison Hewell stands as a testament to the impactful results of challenging status quo assumptions. Under the guidance of a forward-thinking governor (warden), the facility has embraced culture-shifting initiatives, from bolstering staff engagement and wellness to fostering a sense of normalcy within a complex operational landscape. The innovations observed offer promising avenues for transformative applications in US corrections, tailored to the specific needs of each facility’s staff and resident population.

Malta’s Holistic Approach

As Malta’s sole correctional facility, the Corradino Correctional Facility provides a unique perspective on blending security with rehabilitation. The facility’s commitment to diverse, innovative programs aimed at reducing recidivism highlights the profound impact that correctional institutions can have on the well-being of residents and the broader community. Notably, Malta’s effective use of unconventional security measures, though rare in the US, has proven to be exceptionally effective.

Social Purpose Corrections: Embracing New Paradigms

At Social Purpose Corrections (SPC), we are integrating the insights from these experiences into our reform initiatives. Committed to nurturing a culture that prioritizes the wellness of both staff and residents, SPC is exploring the adoption of practices that promote dignity and normalcy, beginning with the correctional staff. Motivated by the innovative approaches witnessed, SPC is set to introduce groundbreaking solutions to support correctional leaders in transforming the prevailing challenges within correctional cultures.

The potential for collaboration with PRS opens exciting avenues for SPC to enhance its reform model with proven strategies for cultural transformation. This partnership stands to significantly amplify our efforts, driving towards a collective vision for a correctional system that is both more humane and effective.


The insights gained from the UK and Malta prison tours underscore the principle that cultural transformation can simultaneously enhance security and rehabilitation. At the forefront of this transformative movement, Social Purpose Corrections utilizes these insights to forge a model that addresses the comprehensive needs of staff and residents, contributing to a safer, more just society.

Brian Koehn is the Founder and CEO of Social Purpose Corrections.