Are Hope and Possibility Achievable in Prison?
Following the publication of original article, Are Hope and Possibility Achievable in Prison? lead author, Professor Alison Liebling, discussed her motivations for conducting the research, the findings and the ideas underpinning her approach. This conversation with the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice’s Editor-in-Chief, Professor Ian Loader and the Governor of HMP Wayland, Sonja Walsh is available to watch in the above video.
“Hope is everywhere … From the minute you get off the bus. They shake your hand and give you a cup of tea. They say good morning to you. You see guys moving on. There is humanity here … People treat you like you’re a person, like a person who has potential. (prisoner)
It’s a prison where you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s up to you if you want to step into that light, they give you the choice. (prisoner)
We allow the men to be who they are really are. They don’t have to pretend here … Everyone lives and works side by side. What we’re trying to do is create a real community. (staff member)
It shouldn’t be about performance targets and numbers. We should be about values and changing lives. (staff member)”
There is both hope and frustration in this article. A recent research exercise in a prison found it to be inspirational in its ethos, relationships and mission. Prisoners talked passionately about their experiences in it and its impact on their personal development. But prisoners received very little resettlement support and things sometimes went wrong as soon as they were released, not because of any ‘moral failings’ on their part, but because they could not even navigate the journey ‘home’. It looked like everything we know cumulatively about ‘better prisons’, but its prisoners were failed as they transitioned out. More ‘tragic imagination’ is required in penal policy.
Read the full Open Access article in the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, here.
The Howard League for Penal Reform campaign to reduce the prison population and to change prisons. From challenging restrictions on prisoners reading books to ground-breaking research on sex behind bars, the Howard League is the leading voice on what should happen inside prisons. Find out more at https://howardleague.org/ .