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'Imaginary Rehabilitation in the Imaginary Prison'

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Publihis seminar will develop Carlen’s notion of ‘Imaginary Penalities’ to explore the ways in which penal architecture and design have become regarded as symbolic indicators of rehabilitative intentions and outcomes. It will problematise the cultural export of Nordic penal exceptionalism and its half-hearted importation into UK prisons and will argue that ‘rehabilitative culture’ is a myth that ignores material reality, perpetuates the ‘imaginary prison’, and masks the fact that not all penal objectives, however well-meaning, are realisable.

Although not the focus of prison scholarship until very recently when researchers in criminology and carceral geography prompted a ‘spatial turn’ in qualitative studies of imprisonment, it is now common to highlight the spatial features of incarceration, or to note the contribution physical environment makes to the pains of imprisonment, even when the study is ostensibly about something else. Opinions are often expressed from an externalist, privilege-centric viewpoint, based on fleeting and impressionistic experiences about what incarceration in these buildings must be like.

Yvonne Jewkes is Professor of Criminology at the University of Bath. She has recently held three external research grants to study prison architecture and design and their role in delivering positive outcomes for prisoners, including rehabilitation. Yvonne has published widely on various aspects of imprisonment and is Editor of The Handbook on Prisons (with Ben Crewe and Jamie Bennett; Routledge, 2016) and the new Sage journal Incarceration (with Ben Crewe and Thomas Ugelvik). She is also a series editor of Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology, Sage Key Approaches to Criminology and Emerald Studies in Culture, Criminal Justice and the Arts.c Seminar:

This talk is part of the Public Thursday Seminars, Institute of Criminology series.

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