My name is Marguerite Schinkel and I was born and grew up in the Netherlands, land of bicycles, tall people, and supposed tolerance. After I finished school, I went to Canada for two years to live in a group-home with people with learning difficulties and mental health problems. I then came to Scotland to study and have never left (although I did spend six months in Manchester). I live in South Lanarkshire with my partner, who is an acoustic engineer, our five year old son, who likes to think he’s a lift mechanic and one year-old boy/girl twins.
I have long been interested in how we, as a society, should deal with people who offend, and the experience of those who undergo criminal punishment. My undergraduate philosophy dissertation looked at how (and whether) imprisonment can be justified. For my Masters I examined the experiences of people who were sent to prison after making positive changes in their lives.
My PhD looked at how long-term prisoners made sense of their sentence. I found that many of the long-term prisoners I spoke to accepted their sentence, because they felt that was the easiest way to get through their time. Some of them saw their sentence as important, because they felt it had changed them for the better. I wondered if the same would be true for people who ‘serve life by instalments’; people who spend a lot of time in prison, but because they are given many short sentences rather than one long one. I am very happy that I have been given the opportunity (thanks ESRC!) to s to research these and related questions.