Conference to discuss prison’s impact on society
The conference, which will be held from 10am to 4.30pm in the James Graham Building at the University’s Headingley Campus, will be an opportunity for both members and non-members to meet, network and learn about new, and potential, avenues of research related to prison.
Helen Nichols, Co-Leader of the Prison Research Network at Leeds Beckett, explained: “The Prison Research Network has become a central hub of knowledge and experience concerning prisons; whether this be researching prisons, working in prisons, or experiencing prison first hand. Included in this hub are those who work with people in the community through resettlement and reintegration processes. Our aim is to continue connecting people and organisations to encourage the pursuit of understanding about the prison institution and the impact it has on society broadly. Ultimately, our mission is to improve people’s lives through the valuable resource of knowledge and experience — something that is significantly strengthened when researchers and organisations come together with a common purpose.”
Opening and closing the event will be network leaders, criminology lecturers and prison researchers within the University’s Centre for Applied Social Research, Helen Nichols and Dr Bill Davies. A keynote presentation will be made by Frances Crook, CEO of the Howard League for Penal Reform, the oldest penal reform charity in the UK and a national charity working for less crime and fewer people in prison.
Further Prison Research Network members speaking at the event will be: Rex Bloomstein, the documentary filmmaker known for the 2010 film This Prison Where I Live and the 1980 TV series Strangeways; Laura Abbott, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery at the University of Hertfordshire, who will speak about midwifery in prison; Laura Kelly, Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), presenting her research on deafness in prison; Michael Crofts, Founder and CEO of youth engagement social enterprise, REDS, talking about a rugby project run in young offenders institutions; Louise Swan, Head of Programmes for English PEN, will introduce her organisation, which campaigns to defend writers and readers whose human right to freedom of expression is at risk; and Gemma Ahearne, a Leeds Beckett University PhD student, presenting her research into sex workers’ experiences of prison.
The Prison Research Network conference is free to attend and places can be booked at http://bit.ly/PRNConference.
The Prison Research Network was launched in April 2015. Bill explained: “The Prison Research Network is a supportive network of academic and non-academic professionals with an interest in prison and its wider impact on society. The aim of the network is to bridge the gap between previously separate academic disciplines to create a central hub of knowledge and support.”
The network also includes members from the NHS and the Prison Service, along with local prisoner-based charities and other national charities with a vested interest in penal reform.
Bill added: “The response we gained from the launch of the network was beyond our expectation to say the least. We were particularly enthused that attendees acknowledged the welcoming and somewhat informal environment we had strived to create at the launch to encourage networking and the sharing of ideas — an environment that we feel represents the nature of the network itself. The event resulted in the creation of new connections between Network members and those who had attended to find out about the network.”
A special edition of the Prison Service Journal, dedicated to the Leeds Beckett University Prison Research Network, was published earlier this year.
The edition, entitled PRisoN: Unlocking prison research, showcases the breadth of research involved in the network and can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/PSJJan2016.