Social impact of prison examined at Leeds conference
Academics and professionals with an interest in prison will gather at Headingley Carnegie Stadium in Leeds on Friday 19 May, from 10am to 4.30pm for the network’s second annual conference.
Dr Helen Nichols, Co-Leader of the Prison Research Network (PRisoN) at Leeds Beckett, explained: “During the course of the day we will look forward to networking opportunities with delegates to discuss a range of areas of prison research and practice. We encourage anyone to attend who has an interest in prisons and the wider social impact of imprisonment. Our network brings together researchers, practitioners, charities and prison staff for the common purpose of sharing knowledge and creating opportunities for collaborative work.”
Delivering the keynote speech will be Shadd Maruna, Professor of Criminology at the University of Manchester. Professor Maruna is the author of the groundbreaking book, Making Good: How Ex-Convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives, was named the Outstanding Contribution to Criminology by the American Society of Criminology in 2001. He has previously taught at the University of Cambridge and Rutgers University, amongst others.
Dr Nichols said: “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.”
Also speaking at the event will be: Dr Jamie Bennett, Governor of HMP Grendon and Spring Hill, and Shaun Williamson, Head of Reducing Reoffending at HMP Full Sutton, speaking about therapeutic communities and rehabilitative cultures; Joe Simmonds, Research Officer at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, discussing close supervision centres; Dr Steve Wright, Reader in the School of Social Sciences at Leeds Beckett, sharing his research into prisoner control technology; Madeleine Hughes, PhD student at the University of Kent, discussing her research into older prisoners; Jason Warr, Criminology Lecturer at the University of Lincoln, examining prison violence; and Dr Clare Allely and Dr Toni Wood, Lecturers in Psychology at the University of Salford, looking into autism in prison.
There will also be a chance to find out about the activity of PRisoN over the past year, which has primarily focused on developing a partnership with HMP Full Sutton, offering a degree-level criminology module to prisoners and Leeds Beckett students, delivered within the prison.
Dr Bill Davies, Co-leader of the Prison Research Network at Leeds Beckett University and Senior Lecturer in Criminology, explained: “The Learning Together project gives prisoners that are stuck doing courses below their ability the opportunity to learn at a higher level. They want to learn and they want the chance to keep occupied. The aim is to offer them a chance to start on a different trajectory for their futures.”
The Learning Together course began in February this year and has been developed in partnership with the University of Cambridge which delivers a similar programme; however, the notable difference is that prisoners on the Leeds Beckett course are registered students, with all participants receiving 20 level six (final year undergraduate) university credits on completion of the module.