A major two day conference discussing the past, present and future of prison abolition across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This conference has been cancelled. Read our statement here.

Conference organisers

The conference is being hosted by the Harm & Evidence Research Collaborative at The Open University and the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, in partnership with Professor Joe Sim of Liverpool John Moores University.

Programme and speakers

Keynote speakers

  • Professor Joe Sim, Liverpool John Moores University
  • Professor Paul Gilroy, King's College London

Conference aims

The over-riding aims are two-fold, albeit these are related. First, to recognise and evaluate the contributions made by Joe Sim to abolitionist thinking over the past forty years. Second, to assess the development within and beyond the academic sphere of abolitionist ideas, to ask how these ideas have fared, to address their strengths, weaknesses and lacunae, and to assess their future trajectories and their relationships to abolitionist politics.

Day one: Thursday, 23 May 2019

Professor Joe Sim of Liverpool John Moores University will be our keynote speaker on day one.

The aim of day one is to draw out the contributions of and tensions within abolitionist arguments as they have historically evolved within the UK.

The starting point for the day is the fortieth anniversary of the publication, in 1979, of British Prisons by Mike Fitzgerald and Joe Sim. The sessions will explore how abolitionist arguments have developed in the UK since the book’s publication and its legacy, and in particular will also acknowledge and document the significant contributions made to abolitionist arguments in the UK by Professor Joe Sim.

Other speakers on day one include:

  • Deborah Drake, The Open University
  • David Scott, The Open University
  • Patrick Williams, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Alana Barton, Edge Hill University
  • Vickie Cooper, The Open University
  • Emily Luise Hart, University of Liverpool
  • Andrew Henley, University of Nottingham
  • Paddy Hillyard, Queens University Belfast
  • Steve Tombs, The Open University
  • David Whyte, University of Liverpool
  • Kym Atkinson, Liverpool John Moores University
  • Helen Monk, Liverpool John Moores University

Day two: Friday, 24 May 2019

Professor Paul Gilroy of King's College London will be our keynote speaker on day two.

The aim of day two is to consider where we go from here, exploring the trajectories, steps forward and steps back from, prison abolition in the UK at the current political and social conjuncture.

Contributions will consider how abolitionist ideas and practices can gain increased momentum, tapping into current socio-economic, political and public opinion contexts and the attempts to establish a series of abolitionist strategies which will both highlight the abject state of the current system, contest the failure of liberal reform strategies and point to a different vision for the future.

Overall, the day aims to ask: What does prison abolitionism look like and mean today, what challenges does it face as a social movement and what are its future prospects across the UK?

Other speakers on day two include:

  • Eric Allison, The Guardian
  • Jamie Bennett, Governor, HMP Long Lartin
  • Deborah Coles, Inquest
  • Mary Corcoran, Keele University
  • Rob Jones, University of South Wales
  • Rachel Seoighe, University of Kent
  • Margaret Malloch, University of Stirling
  • Rebecca Roberts, Inquest
  • Stephen Akpabio-Klementowski, The Open University
  • Richard Garside, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies

Help publicise the conference



Help us to publicise the conference by distributing the conference flyer around your networks.



How much does it cost to book a place?

The event fee covers the costs of both days, and includes refreshments and lunch, but not dinner.

The fee does not cover the costs of accommodation, which you will need to book separately. You will receive information from us about accommodation options.

We want to make this conference as affordable as possible and encourage people to register at a fee that reflects their income.

If you are able to make an extra donation to support the conference, that would be really appreciated. This will help cover the costs for those on low incomes.

Rate A is for those who can pay through their institution. We hope that as many academics as possible will choose this option to help the organisers support low income attendees.

  • Rate A: Institutional booking £100
  • Rate B: Higher waged / solidarity donation rate £60
  • Rate C: Waged £40
  • Rate D: Low income plus £10 solidarity donation £20
  • Rate E: Low income £10

We do not want conference fees or travel costs to be a bar on attendance. If you are on low income and do not feel you will be able to meet the costs of getting to and attending the conference please get in touch with us at info@crimeandjustice.org.uk. We will do our best to help.

Venue, time and date

May 23rd, 2019 10:30 AM to May 24th, 2019 4:15 PM
Berrill Lecture Theatre
The Open University
Walton Hall Campus
Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
United Kingdom
Show large map
Event Fee(s)
Event fee
Rate A: Institutional booking £100.00
Rate B: Higher waged / solidarity rate £60.00
Rate C: Waged £40.00
Rate D: Low income plus £10 solidarity donation £20.00
Rate E: Low income £10.00
Event terms and conditions
Enable terms and Conditions Acceptance
Checkbox Position Top profile
Checkbox text I accept the Terms & Conditions
Terms and Conditions File
Link Label Terms & Conditions
Introduction Please read and accept the terms &conditions and our Data Policy.