Prison Architecture and Design in the Context of Reform: Symposium at the Royal Institute of British Architects, 2 June 2017

PAS 2017 TwitterTo mark the end of a major, international ESRC-funded research study into prison architecture, design and technology conducted by the University of Brighton and the University of Birmingham, delegates are invited to register for a Symposium on Prison Architecture and Design in the Context of Reform.

The Symposium will be held on 2 June 2017, at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), 66 Portland Place, London

Reflecting the three-year study, the Symposium will focus on prison planning, design and modernisation in England & Wales, Scotland, Norway and Denmark. Speakers and delegates will be mixture of academic researchers with a particular interest in prisons and imprisonment, architects who have designed custodial facilities, prison managers and senior corrections and justice personnel.

The programme will include panels on:

  • prison reform in England & Wales in the current context of reform
  • the Nordic experience
  • the Scottish experience
  • the power of horticulture, gardens and landscape

and a

  • World Cafe discussion

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Prof Nick Hardwick (Royal Holloway, University of London, and former HM Chief Inspector of Prisons)
  • Prof Yvonne Jewkes (University of Brighton)
  • Christopher Liddle (Chairman, HLM Architects, London)
  • Mads Mandrup Hansen (CF Moller Architects, Copenhagen)
  • Stein Erik Laeskogen (Statsbygg, Oslo)
  • Dr Berit Johnsen (Head of Research, the Correctional Service of Norway Staff Academy (KRUS), Oslo)
  • Dr Sarah Armstrong (University of Glasgow)
  • Roland Karthaus (Matter Architecture and RIBA Research Trust award holder)
  • Dr Daryl Martin (University of York)
  • Dr Jen Turner (University of Liverpool)
  • Dr Geraldine Brown (Coventry University)
  • Erwin James (The Guardian)
  • Karl Lenton (Safe Innovation/The Free Prisoner)
  • Dr Kate Gooch (University of Leicester and HMP Berwyn)

Attendance is Free. Register for your place here.

‘Carceral Crossings’ launched by the Carceral Geography Working Group of the RGS-IBG

With the launch of the Carceral Geography Working Group, we also launch a series of Carceral Crossings, intended to showcase both new scholarship in this field, and to provide an opportunity for Early Career Researcher (undergraduate, masters, doctoral, and postdoctoral) members of the CGWG to bring their own research to the attention of the wider community.

Crossings combine brief reviews of a recent publication (e.g. a book or paper), with discussion of the resonance of that publication for the author’s ongoing work. Intended as blog-type pieces of up to 750 words (excluding references), submissions are warmly invited. If you would like to submit a Crossings piece, please scroll down and fill out the form below.

The first Carceral Crossings piece comes from Victoria Pereyra Iraola, a doctoral researcher at the University of Warwick, reflecting on Turner and Peters’ edited collection ‘Carceral Mobilities’ and introducing her own research on incarceration in Argentina. Read it here!

One-day conference at U.Birmingham for Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing – 26 June 2017

The Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing at the University of Birmingham is holding a one-day conference at the Edgbaston campus, Birmingham.


Confirmed topics include: mental health and offending, domestic violence, sexual offending, spatial analysis of crime, carceral geography, early intervention, prosecution, serial offending, solvability analysis, wellbeing of emergency services personnel, and extremism.

This event will be of interest to practitioners and academics working in the areas of crime, justice and policing, as well as stakeholders and policy-makers. Students of these topics are very welcome to attend too as this will present an excellent opportunity to network.

Register for this event by completing a quick online form.

Prison Research Network (PRisoN) at Leeds Beckett University: Annual Conference 19 May 2017, Leeds, UK

The Prison Research Network (PRisoN) based at Leeds Beckett University is holding an annual conference on 19th May 2017.

This annual conference brings together delegates from universities, prisons, charities and organisations to discuss current issues relating imprisonment in research, policy and practice.

There will be a wide range of topics under discussion, including:

  • Prisoner Control Technology
  • Autism in Prison
  • Older Prisoners
  • Prison Violence

The keynote will be given by Professor Shadd Maruna.

All are welcome to attend.

19th May 9.30-4.30

Lewis Jones Suite, Carnegie Stand, Headingley Carnegie Stadium, St Michael’s Lane, Headingley, Leeds, LS6 3BR

Cost: £10 (£5 for concessions)

For booking information see

CFP: ‘Prison states and political embodiment’, September 7-8, 2017 University of Lisbon, Portugal

What are the political structures and effects of contemporary carceral institutions? How are they inscribed within wider cultural and political circuits of meaning in ways that shape contemporary society? How do incarcerated subjects resist their objectification and erasure within the contemporary industrial prison complex through strategies such as writing, creative production, autobiography, political protest and other modes of survival and expression? And in particular, how do certain socially opressed and politically vulnerable groups (such as women, transgender subjects, racialized subjects or political prisioners, among others) participate of these kinds of resistance and reinscription?

The international conference “Prison States and Political Embodiment” is concerned with these questions and the plurality of issues which ramify from them. By interrogating how the contemporary prison shapes cultural imaginaries and how, in turn, cultural imaginaries participate in the making – and unmaking – of hegemony, we hope to provide, through the organization of this conference, a fruitful critical occasion for the intellectual and political reflection on incarceration, embodiment and identity within contemporary carceral culture.

The conference will be held on the 7th and 8th of September 2017, at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Lisbon, in Portugal. It is an initiative of Project CILM – Cities and (In)securities in Literature and Media, coordinated by principal researcher Susana Araújo, which is based at the Center for Comparative Studies of the University of Lisbon. The international conference will be followed by a special parallel event concerned with the same topics and articulated in a non-academic space, so as to ensure the dissemination of the critical thinking enabled in academia outside of its specific institutional limits.

For further information, see

Rethinking Prisons Research conference – U.Leicester 13/14 June 2017: CFP and methodological vignettes

Registration is now open for a two-day conference “Rethinking Prisons Research” at the University of Leicester, UK, focusing on the emerging theoretical, conceptual and empirical themes in prisons research, and possible future directions.

Carceral geographers are warmly invited to attend and to submit abstracts and/or methodological vignettes (see below).

Plenary speakers include:

  • Dr Jamie Bennett (HMPPS)
  • Dr Ben Crewe (University of Cambridge)
  • Dr Dominique Moran (University of Birmingham)
  • Dr Ruth Mann (HMPPS)

The conference is free for participants. Register here.

Call for Papers (and vignettes)

Abstracts are invited for papers addressing the broad theme of ‘rethinking prisons research.’ Whilst papers that address methodological concerns are welcome, the intention is that papers should generally speak to theoretical and conceptual themes and debates.

Abstracts from early career researchers and postgraduate researchers are particularly welcome.

Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words and should be emailed to: Dr Kate Gooch ( by the deadline for submission which is 19th May 2017

Dominique Moran’s plenary session at the “Rethinking Prisons Research” conference will be sponsored by the Carceral Geography Working Group of the RGS-IBG, and will address the methodological intersections between (carceral) geography and criminology. In other words, it will explore the ways in which geographers approach carcerality methodologically, and the challenges and benefits of deploying methods such as mapping and walked interviews in the carceral setting.

Separate from the general CFP for the conference, there is an invitation for methodological vignettes, 3-5 minute ‘snapshot’ presentations by carceral geographers or other researchers using spatial methods (broadly conceived), to be presented as part of this plenary session. These could be reflections on completed fieldwork, fieldwork in progress, or planned fieldwork. Contributing a vignette does not preclude presenters from submitting a full abstract for the conference itself, and if a full paper is also presented, there can be overlap between this and the vignette. To discuss, and/or to suggest a vignette, please email Dominique at by 19 May 2017.

Call for Space, Place and Crime papers, European Society of Criminology conference 2017

The Abstract submission for the European Society of Criminology conference held from 13th to 16th September 2017 in Cardiff, Wales has opened, and a specific call for papers might be of interest to carceral geographers.

Ellie Bates, Coordinator of the ESC 2017 Space, Place and Crime Panels Organizing Committee (on behalf of Wouter Steenbeek, Marre Lammers and Christophe Vandeviver of the Space, Place and Crime ESC Working Group have published following CFP.

The Space, Place and Crime ESC Working Group would like to start organizing coordinated Space, Place and Crime panels for this year’s conference, following last year’s highly successful full day of excellent and interesting Crime and Place panels in Münster.

Similar to last year in Münster, they welcome suggestions for both, full panels, or individual papers, that focus on space, place and crime research.

The call is open to everyone, whether or not you are a member of the Space, Place and Crime working group (yet). The organisers warmly welcome papers on any aspect of research into Space, Place and Crime including both theoretical, and empirical research; and both quantitative, and qualitative methods.

If you are interested in presenting on a Space, Place and Crime panel at ESC 2017 they require the following:

For individual papers:

Please send your name, school/organization affiliation, title of presentation, and a presentation abstract (200 words), as well as the name, e-mail addresses and affiliations of any co-authors. Their task will then be to sort individual contributions and propose well-structured panels to the Cardiff organizers.

For full panels:

Panels can feature up to 4 papers. Please send the title of a proposed panel session and a 200 word abstract describing the panel plus full details for each of the individual papers proposed to be included within the panel [Lead presenter name, school/organization affiliation, title of presentation, and a presentation abstract (200 words), as well as the name, e-mail addresses and affiliations of any co-authors].

Please note all submissions must be in English, the official language of EUROCRIM 2017. All presentations based on accepted abstract submissions must be made in English.

As stated above, the ESC submission deadline is 15 June 2017, in order to arrange panels well in advance, the organisers are asking for submissions no later than Friday 12 May 2017.

Please send all submissions and/or questions to Ellie Bates (

The organisers hope to reply no later than 7 June 2017, 1 week before the ESC submission deadline. Please note that the final decision on acceptance of panels and papers lies with the Cardiff organizing committee.

The conference website can be found here:



Low Level Sanction British Society of Criminology / Liverpool Hope University Conference

For any UK carceral geographers not attending the AAG2017 next week, this conference looks like a great opportunity:

Liverpool Hope University is hosting a British Society of Criminology one day conference on Low level sanctions on Wednesday 5th April, at Hope Park Campus.

Speakers include: Prof. George Mair, (Liverpool Hope), Prof. Martin Wasik (Keele), Prof. Sir Anthony Bottoms (Cambridge), Dr Adam Snow (Liverpool Hope), Dr Natalia Vibla (Liverpool Hope), Dr Sara Grace (Salford University) and Dr John Bache (Magistrates Association).

This conference is a joint venture between the British Society of Criminology and the Social Sciences Department at Liverpool Hope University. The aim of this conference is to interrogate how low level sentences (those imposed by the courts) and penalties (out of court disposals, including cautions and community resolutions, imposed by a range of enforcement agencies) are used to deal with criminality in a proportionate manner. It will examine the extent, meaning, messages and purposes of the low level sentence, and penalty, by drawing on nascent research and practitioner knowledge to provide a holistic understanding of the impact of low level sentences on criminal justice policy.

This conference will bring together academics, post graduates and practitioners in the field of sentencing and community justice. It aims to provide insight into the applicability of sentencing theory to low level offences and ask critical questions about the purposes, experiences and trends of low level sentences and penalties.

This is a FREE event. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Dr Adam Snow ( for catering purposes and evening wine reception.

Global Carceral Geographies at the AAG2017

The 2017 AAG (American Association of Geographers) conference takes place next week (5-9 April)  in Boston, and there will be four sessions on carceral geography.

Confinement is on the move. In recent years, governments around the world have resorted to deploying the spatial power of incarceration in its many architectural, legal, and embodied forms to shutter away an enormous number of lives that are deemed undesirable, undocumented or dangerous. From the U.S.’ enormous federal and state prison system to Libya’s migrant jails at the edges of the E.U., the confinement of bodies has been used as a panacea for complex political and economic crises, often exacerbating the very problems they claim to resolve and creating a global underclass of people confined and/or surveilled by the state and for-profit contractors. Geographers have played a critical role in research on confinement, including: the political economy of prisons, the proliferation of immigrant detention, the affective and embodied life inside detention, historical geographies of confinement, and the prevalence of mobile carceral networks. We aim to move existing literature forward by challenging the apparent differences between various types of confinement (such as incarceration and immigrant detention), widening our discussion of confinement beyond the U.S. and U.K., and deepening our methodological and theoretical frameworks for analyzing carceral geographies.

1205 Global Carceral Geographies I: Carceral Experiences is scheduled on Wednesday, 5th April , from 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM in Room 105, Hynes, Plaza Level.

In this session, we focus specifically on how people experience incarceration as a spatial technology of power. The session features papers from:

Anna Schliehe, Dr – University of Cambridge Dialogues across carceral space: comparative research and the case of penal exceptionalism

Anaïs Tschanz – University of Montreal Carceral (im)mobilities and inmate experience of distance in the Canadian province of Quebec.

Nicolas Sallée – Université de Montréal Imprisoned rehabilitation? The carceral nature of a Quebec secure juvenile facility.

Jennifer Turner – University of Liverpool; Dominique Moran – University of Birmingham; Yvonne Jewkes – University of Brighton Serving time with a sea view: escaping prison via therapeutic blue space

1405 Global Carceral Geographies II: Carceral Societies is scheduled on Wednesday 5th April from 12:40 PM – 2:20 PM in Room 105, Hynes, Plaza Level

In this session, we focus specifically on incarceration and the management of confined bodies as an endemic symptom of social violence. The session features papers from:

Olivier Milhaud – University Paris-Sorbonne, UMR ENeC CNRS A theoretical framework for confinement (prisons, distance, discontinuities, France)

Julie De Dardel – University of Geneva Ethics in and after the field in prison research

1505 Global Carceral Geographies III: Confining the Other is scheduled on Wednesday 5th April from 2:40 PM – 4:20 PM in Room 105, Hynes, Plaza Level

In this session, we focus specifically on the role of confinement in creating and reinforcing notions of geographic, legal, and social “otherness”. The session features papers from:

Lauren Martin – Durham University The Carceral Mobilities of Cash: Outsourcing, Digital Surveillance, and Refused Asylum-seeker Assistance in the United Kingdom

Leigh Barrick – University of British Columbia Separating families to maintain family unity, and other paradoxes of U.S. deterrence policy

Austin Kocher – The Ohio State University, Department of Geography The Legal Construction of Space: On the Juridical Relationship Between Immigrant Detention, Immigration Courts, and Border Enforcement in the United States

Adam Joseph Barker – University of Leicester Carcerality and Indigeneity: the roots of ‘Indian territory’ in Turtle Island (North America)

1605 Global Carceral Geographies IV: Carceral Intersections is scheduled on Wednesday 5th April, from 4:40 PM – 6:20 PM in Room 105, Hynes, Plaza Level.

In this session, we focus specifically on the intersections between incarceration and other forms of political power and social control. The session features papers from:

Emma Marshall – University of Exeter Investigating the possibilities of online activism as a challenge to carceral space

Jesse Proudfoot – Durham University Scaling Addiction

Odilka Sabrina Santiago – Binghamton University  Predictive Policing and the Transformation of Carceral Space: Promotes, rather than, Prevents Violence

Christophe Mincke – National Institute for Forensic Science and Criminology From confinement to monitoring. The carceral as management of the transitory

Elsewhere in the program, carceral geographers will also surely be interested to attend:

2492 PREM: The Daily Life of Police Violence on Thursday, 6th April, from 1:20 PM – 3:00 PM in Provincetown, Marriott, Fourth Floor

3192 PREM: Racialized State Power and the Problem of Reform on Friday, 7th April, from 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM in Provincetown, Marriott, Fourth Floor


3492 PREM: A Roundtable on Prisons, Racism, Empire, Militarism
on Friday, 7th April 2017, from 1:20 PM – 3:00 PM in Provincetown, Marriott, Fourth Floor

…and papers from…

Brett Story, Post-Doctoral Fellow – CUNY Graduate Center  The Prison in the City

Vanessa Anne Massaro, PhD – Bucknell University  “In and outta jail”: State reliance on family support networks through prisons’ revolving door

Shaul Cohen – University of Oregon Transcending Space, Embracing Time: Geographic Imagination From Within a Prison

Madeleine Hamlin – Syracuse University Second Chances in the Second City: Mapping Chicago’s Carceral Continuum

Jen Bagelman,- Exeter University Subterranean Detention & Sanctuary from below

Richard Nisa – Fairleigh Dickinson University Laboratories of Enemy Behavior: Cold War Social Science and the Korean War Prison

Bella Robinson – CoyoteRI, and Elena Shih – Brown University Policing Modern Day Slavery: Sex Work and the Carceral State in Rhode Island




Destabilising the fabric of the prison


(HMP Berwyn; photo from Daily Post)

The recent opening of HMP Berwyn, the UK’s newest prison, was heralded by two fascinating news reports. In the first, the Welsh Daily Post reported that ‘Anarchists claim they sabotaged the foundations of Wrexham’s new prison making it “structurally unsound”’. The attacks, claimed on the anonymous ‘325’ blog, allegedly took place in 2015; “a strong acidic powder was poured into the excavations of the groundfloor slabs of two of the prison’s houseblocks. This has made two of these buildings structurally unsound – their foundations will eventually crumble and the buildings could collapse over time”. The UK Ministry of Justice denied the claims, saying “There is absolutely no evidence to suggest the foundations of any building at the prison have been tampered with.” In the second news report, journalists reflected on the ‘unique environment’ of HMP Berwyn, describing its colourful nature, the presence of wall art and inspirational messages, and the philosophy of the institution, explained by Governor Russ Trent as an integral part of the rehabilitative ethos of the prison.

For carceral geographers, these pieces, which both focus, albeit in starkly different ways, on the built environment and its propensity to enable challenge to the assumed function of imprisonment, stimulate reflection on the significance of spaces of incarceration.

The prison ‘fabric’ frequently comes under attack from the ‘inside’, via disturbances and riots, including those which have happened over the past few months in the UK, targeting the materiality of the building. At HMP Birmingham in late 2016, for example, an estimated £2m of damage was done to the fabric of the prison buildings by prisoners aggrieved at conditions and staffing levels. But attacks on the fabric of a prison from the ‘outside’ are less common. Anarchists posting on the 325 blog claimed that their alleged attacks on the foundation slabs of the prison were “dedicated to every human being that has died in the prison system at the hands of the State” and part of their wider “opposition to all mega prisons being built and the continuing growth of the prison-industrial complex”. In apparently targeting the fabric of the buildings in addition to protesting outside of them, such actions draw attention to the propensity of the built environment to crystallise and express punitive philosophy.

But arguably the built environment of HMP Berwyn is itself attempting to destabilise ideas about what prison is ‘for’ and what it can ‘do’.  With Justice Secretary Liz Truss enshrining ministerial duty to rehabilitate prisons into UK law for the first time, HMP Berwyn seems to be attempting, (within the context of a building commissioned and designed some time ago), to enhance the rehabilitative potential of the prison’s built environment, and the ways in which it is to be managed by a staffing group selected with the rehabilitative ethos in mind.

A recent paper emerging out of an ongoing project considers the processes of procurement, commissioning, tendering, project management and bureaucratisation – termed ‘architectural assembly’ – that shape (what will become) carceral spaces.  In focusing on what happens before a building takes physical form, albeit overlooking such anarchistic ‘attacks’ on incomplete buildings, it draws attention to the to the ‘inhabitation’ of buildings: an awareness of the situated and everyday practices through which a building is used. Thus seen, buildings are sites in which a myriad of users and things come into contact in numerous, complex, planned, spontaneous and unexpected ways; encounters are embodied and multi-sensory; and resonant of the power structures that exist both within and outwith the building.

Concern for the ‘inhabitation’ of prison buildings, therefore, may lead us to consider direct ‘attacks’ on their materiality – from both the ‘inside’ and, less conventionally, the ‘outside’, but also their ongoing modification, and the everyday interactions which take place spatially within them. Arguably both may serve to challenge and ‘destabilise’ the prison; or at least, our ideas about its functional purpose.