While their might not be much research on how people perceive their criminal punishment, many people who have been at the receiving end of the criminal justice system have written eloquently and persuasively about their experiences. There are many famous biographies by ex-prisoners, but increasingly people are also recording their thoughts and stories in formats accessible on the internet. This page links to freely available (re)sources that can give an insight into how those who undergo criminal punishment make sense of their sentence.
Erwin James is well known in the UK for his columns in the Guardian during and after his imprisonment. Here he gives his life story, including his feelings about his long-term imprisonment. He also has a blog where this is a very powerful description of some of his prison journey. Erwin James is now the Editor in Chief of Inside Time , the UK’s newspaper for prisoners, which often includes pieces written by prisoners.
Ben’s prison blog is the first blog in Britain to have been written by a serving prisoner. Now out on licence, Ben campaigns for criminal justice reform, and his posts include this one on his prison journey. His blog also contains links to other excellent criminal justice blogs.
Alex Cavendish writes Prison UK: An Insiders’ View. This blog is intended to provide information for prospective prisoners and prisoners’ families. It includes many thoughtful reflections on the imprisonment experience, such as its meaning (a journey into the depths of the night), or what it is like to first be sent to prison and how to prepare for this.
STIR is a creative arts magazine, by and for Scottish prisoners. The artwork is stunning and it often includes poems, writings and musings that, in part, reflect on the experience of imprisonment.
The Marshall Project is a news organisation focusing on the US criminal justice system. Their website includes a feature called Life Inside; short pieces written by those who live and work in the criminal justice system. Most writings focus on aspects of imprisonment.
More to come…. if you have any suggestions for resources to include on this page, please get in touch.