Experiencing Prison 7th Global Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference
Prison is used world-wide as a form of punishment or detention for men, women and children, within a functioning criminal justice system, and its use can be traced back to the rise of the earliest forms of state or social organisation in which humans have lived. Prisons are variously known as jails, gaols, penitentiaries, detention centres, correctional centres, and remand centres. They can be used as a tool of political repression, or a means of detaining large groups of civilians during times of war.
Incarceration has a long history, and despite its core commonality, as an experience it has varied historically, and continues to vary, in different societies all over the world. Although imprisonment is most commonly in a building, often purpose-built, it has variously taken place on ships, in camps, on islands, and in castles, fortresses, penal colonies, quarries, sewers, cages and dungeons. Imprisonment has become the dominant form of punishment in most societies across the world, and may occur prior to trial or as a result of sentencing by a properly constituted court. Imprisonment without trial or due process occurs in various forms in most societies across the world, mostly sanctioned by the state itself, sometimes used as a political strategy by military, ideological, political or religious groups within a state, or by groups desirous of becoming a state.
The prison has become a formidable employer, sometimes the dominant employer in neighbourhoods or towns. Over time, it has also been the site of creativity: prison labour, prison art and prison literature (including poetry, drama and autobiography) have contributed hugely to our understanding both of the phenomenon of imprisonment and of the impact it has on lives. It can therefore be approached from a variety of experiential perspectives – that of prisoner, visitor, employee, volunteer, writer, artist, analyst or researcher.
The prison is a powerful metaphor as well, with the capacity to describe a challenging or difficult situation for an individual, a family or a community that seemingly presents no way out, and which presses down upon the human psyche in often unbearable ways. It has been an effective trope within literature, art, poetry and drama.
We welcome contributions about the prison from a wide range of perspectives, including legal, architectural, criminological, historical, geographical, fictional, psychotherapeutic, artistic, phenomenological, biographical and autobiographical points of view.
Contributions are particularly welcomed from former prisoners, detainees, incarcerated asylum seekers, former prisoners of war, political prisoners or those detained because of nationalist, religious or other convictions, those who have been to prison and have written about the experience; those who have fictionalised the prison experience in art and literature; those who have done paid or voluntary work in prison; and those who have researched the prison of the past and of the present. Additionally, we hope to hear from those involved with the architecture and design of prisons, those who are directly or indirectly involved with the delivery of incarceration,and those involved with any prisoners’ rights groups or with those who seek to ameliorate incarceration by providing therapeutic drama, literacy, education, counselling, religious support, death row support, and other services.
All genres and media will be considered, in order to examine the widest possible range of representations, past and contemporary, which inform us about the strange phenomenon of the prison with a view to forming a selective innovative interdisciplinary publication to engender further research and collaboration. We particularly welcome creative responses to the subject, such as poetry/prose, short film screenings/original drama, installations, and alternative presentation styles that engage the audience and foster debate.
Topics for discussion include, but are not restricted to:
Prisoners and the Prison Experience
Types of Prisoners: political dissidents, prisoners of war, violent offenders, non-violent offenders, white collar criminals, innocent/wrongly accused, asylum seekers
The female experience in prison
Transgendered people in prison
Relationships in prison: motherhood, sex, friendship and bonding, relationships with people ‘outside’
Rape, assault and other acts of violence
Torture in prison
Death and dying in prison
Social structures within the prison environment
Prisoner interactions with guards and administrators
Historical perspectives on the prison experience
Race, racism and prison
Poverty, class and prison
Writing, art and other creative practices in prison
Representing the prison experience in literature, theatre, TV, film, video games, music and art
mental health in prison
addictions, self-harm and suicide
medical ethics and care in prison
Life After Prison
Challenges of reintegration
Rehabilitation and education
Discrimination against former inmates
Family and friends coping with the release of loved ones
Community service and volunteerism
Prison As Institution
Prison as workplace: experiences of guards, administrators and institutional officials
Prison spaces: architectural design in theory and practice, boot camps, work camps, open air prisons, etc.
Technologies of incarceration
Teaching and learning in prison
Spirituality and religion in prison
Counselling and other clinical experiences with prisoners
(In)Famous prisons and their legacy (Auschwitz, Guantanamo Bay, Alcatraz, Newgate Gaol, etc.)
Prisons and dark tourism
Prison conditions around the globe
Economics of incarceration: politics of awarding contracts, private vs public management, impact of prison location on local communities, etc.
Prisons in Law and Policy
Theories and practices in rehabilitation and humane containment
Balancing punishment and human rights
Prison reform initiatives
Innovative approaches to incarceration
Relationship between justice system and corrections system
Race, class, sex and other forms of discrimination in sentencing
Correctional services as public policy: governmental/civil service perspectives
National and international legal provisions around prison conditions and prisoners’ rights
NGOs and charities working in the area of prison reform
Social attitudes toward prison and prisoners