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School of Law Roundtable Seminar: ‘Changing Prisons in Challenging Times- Revisited’

In April 2017, The Prison Research Group hosted a follow up prison roundtable event that focused on recent prison reforms and challenges in the criminal justice system.  Audio recordings for all five of our speakers can now be viewed online on our soundcloud page.

Talks include;

Erwin James- author, Guardian Journalist and 'Inside Times' editor

Professor Nick Hardwick- Chair of the parole board, in this audio Professor Hardwick focuses on IPP prisoners

Professor Phillip Leach (Specialist Adviser to an inquiry on mental health and deaths in prison by the Joint Committee on Human Rights) and Natalie Gray of Middlesex University, who speak on prison suicides

Dr Amy Ludlow and Dr Ruth Armstrong- Institute of Criminology Cambridge University, speak about 'Learning Together' and prison education

Mr Nick Pascoe- Executive Governor, Prison Reform – Coldingley and High Down, talks about reform prisons

Dr Rachel Seoighe- Middlesex University, talks on the closure of Holloway Prison

Two years ago we discussed within a roundtable forum the changes and challenges occurring within the prison system and how these were impacting on prison conditions, staffing morale, and prison governance. Since then continuing concerns for prison reform and modernization have unfolded, culminating in the recent launch of six ‘reform prisons’ operating on devolved budgets and  governor autonomy, and the publication in November 2016 of a Prison Safety and Reform White Paper. These developments articulate ambitions for transformative change across the system. These however, are to be delivered within current resources that are severely affected by deep budgetary cuts occurring within wider economic policy. Serious financial stress placed upon the prison estate has undoubtedly affected the safe operation and management of many prisons.  Whilst education and the importance of ‘purposeful activity’ are central propositions of the new reforms, challenges that have arguably held back the government’s vision for ‘transforming rehabilitation’ still exist.

This follow-up roundtable is an opportunity to open up the ongoing debate about the recent reforms – where changes are successfully being implemented, where progress is being hindered and where these reforms can go even further. Can the prison service bring about positive change within the current prison population, within current resources, and within wider challenges that come with the changing physical landscape of the prison estate? We are bringing together a panel of speakers concerned with the running of prisons, prisoners’ health, care and welfare, and rehabilitation and sentencing policy.


Changing Prisons in Challenging Times

In February 2015 the ‘Changing Prisons in Challenging Times’ roundtable was held at Middlesex University. This drew together an expert panel before an academic, practitioner and student audience to discuss and share ideas, concerns and considerations for the future.

The speakers were HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick; Erwin James – journalist for The Guardian newspaper and author of the books A Life Inside: A Prisoner’s Notebook and The Home Stretch: From Prison to Parole; Chair in Psychiatry at Cardiff University Professor Pamela Taylor; Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Middlesex Anastasia Karamalidou; Chair of the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody Lord Toby Harris; and Dr Kimmett Edgar, Head of Research at the Prison Reform Trust.

A summary of the event can be read on the MDX Minds blog.

We now have podcasts available from a selection of our speakers from the 2015 roundtable event.

please check out our soundcloud page to listen to a range of informative and poignant talks from the event including:

HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick,

Chair of the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody Lord Toby Harris,

Dr Kimmett Edgar, Head of Research at the Prison Reform Trust.

(please note these recordings are from February 2015 and views/events of our speakers may have changed/modified since then).

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