Desistance, Prison Education, Learning Together


Drawing on self-report data from a Learning Criminology Inside initiative bringing together BA Criminology students from the University of Manchester with prison-based students from a category C resettlement prison, this article will consider the process of studying desistance “together” in this collaborative setting. It will discuss the complexities of facilitating an external University course in a category C resettlement prison and illustrate how many of the expected and observed behaviours of both sets of students and staff involved reflected themes common to research in reintegration and desistance. The experience of taking part in a prison-based university level course incurs setbacks, as does desistance, and to overcome these, subjective and structural elements similar to those identified in research around desistance from crime are required. Consequently, while discussing desistance, students (and staff) were also practicing elements of it, especially internal factors such as self-determination and persistence and structural factors in terms of support. This paper will also show the possibilities of learning desistance together for both traditional university-based and prison-based students, including, contact with people who can see the new version of ‘self’, a support system, and ideas for new pathways to follow.

Author Bio

Dr Emily Turner is a Research Associate at the University of Manchester working on the Learning Criminology Inside initiative. Prior to this she worked at the University of Bradford on an ESRC-funded 3 year research project using Appreciative Inquiry to look at the response to equality and diversity in prisons. She is an experienced prison researcher having worked on a number of projects at the University of Manchester and undertaking her ESRC-funded PhD research on young fathers in prison and desistance. Her research interests are the experience of imprisonment and desistance.

Dr Rose Broad is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Manchester. She is joint Course Unit Director with Dr Caroline Miles on the module studied in Learning Criminology Inside - From Imprisonment to Rehabilitation. Rose completed her ESRC-funded PhD in 2013 at the University of Manchester, which was an exploratory study of those convicted of human trafficking offences. She is currently involved in research looking at modern slavery. She is extensively published in the areas of human trafficking and modern slavery. Rose has extensive work experience in criminal justice institutions and remains involved with working with perpetrators of domestic violence in the community.

Dr Caroline Miles is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Programme Director for the BA Criminology degree in the School of Law, University of Manchester. She is joint Course Unit Director with Dr Rose Broad on the module studied in Learning Criminology Inside - From Imprisonment to Rehabilitation. Prior to this role, Caroline was a Research Officer in the Centre for Criminology, at the University of Oxford, working with Dr Rachel Condry on an ESRC-funded project ‘Investigating Adolescent Violence towards Parents’. She was previously a Lecturer in Criminology and Programme leader for the MA Crime and Justice at the University of Chester, having completed her ESRC-funded PhD at the University of Manchester in 2008.

Professor Shadd Maruna is Professor of Criminology at Queens University Belfast. Prior to this he was Professor of Criminology at the University of Manchester. Shadd has also worked as Dean of the School of Criminology at Rutgers University in Newark, the University of Cambridge, and the University at Albany, SUNY. His book Making Good: How Ex-Convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives was named the “Outstanding Contribution to Criminology” by the American Society of Criminology (ASC) in 2001. More recently, he has received the Hans Mattick Award for Distinguished Contribution to Criminology in 2014, and the inaugural Research Medal from the Howard League for Penal Reform in 2012. Shadd taught his first prison-based course in 1999 at Greene Correctional Facility when he was a lecturer at the University of Albany, State University of New York.

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