Distance and Punishment in Russia

The majority of women in prison in Russia are held at considerable distances from home, often in remote places difficult for their relatives to access. The negative influence of distance on prisoners – its contribution to high rates of recidivism and poor prisoner mental and physical health – is recognised by the post-Soviet authorities. In reforms to the ‘correctional code’, Russia has pledged itself to holding prisoners near to home, but women are excluded from this provision.

This recently completed research project, undertaken with Judith Pallot and Laura Piacentini, examined how the isolation suffered by women in Russia’s penal system shapes their experiences of custody and the decisions they make at the end of their sentences. The project was the first systematic study of the geography of imprisonment in Russia. It  involved first-hand research in penal colonies in three regions and employed both quantitative and qualitative methods. In addition to women prisoners, the researchers conducted interviews with prison officers, other members of the penal service and voluntary organisations. The results were analysed in the context of the continuities and changes in Russia’s broader penal geography in the past two decades.

The project was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), RES 062-23-0026, and ran between 2006 and 2010.

The ESRC website for the project is here, along with a project website which maps the Soviet and Russian prison system.

Some outputs from the project include:

  • Moran, D., L. Piacentini & J. Pallot (forthcoming 2013) ‘Liminal TransCarceral space: Prison Transportation for Women in the Russian Federation’ , and
  • Milhaud, O. & D. Moran (forthcoming 2013) ‘Penal Space and Privacy in French and Russian Prisons’

in Moran, D., N. Gill & D. Conlon (Eds) (forthcoming 2013) Carceral Spaces: Mobility and Agency in Imprisonment and Migrant Detention. Ashgate, Farnham

  • Moran, D (forthcoming 2013) Leaving behind the ‘Total Institution’? Teeth, TransCarceral Spaces and (Re)Inscription of the Formerly Incarcerated Body Gender, Place & Culture
  • Moran, D. (forthcoming 2013) Between Outside and Inside: Prison Visiting Rooms as Liminal Carceral Spaces. GeoJournal  download
  • Moran, D., J. Pallot & L. Piacentini (forthcoming) Privacy in penal space: Women’s imprisonment in Russia Geoforum
  • Moran, D (2012) Prisoner Reintegration and the Stigma of Prison Time Inscribed on the Body. Punishment & Society14 564-583 download
  • Moran, D., L. Piacentini & J. Pallot (2012) ‘Disciplined Mobility and Carceral Geography: Prisoner Transport in Russia’ Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers  37: 446–460 download
  • Moran, D. J. Pallot & L. Piacentini (2011) ‘The Geography of Crime and Punishment in the Russian Federation’ Eurasian Geography and Economics 52 1 79-104 download
  • Moran, D. J. Pallot & L. Piacentini (2009) Lipstick, Lace & Longing: Constructions of Femininity inside a Russian Prison, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 27 4  700-720 download

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