The 25-day protest in 1990 at Strangeways prison in Manchester was the longest prison protest in British history.
On 1 April 2020 – 30 years to the day from the start of the protest – we will be holding a major conference in central London to discuss the past, present and future of prisons.
The root causes of the protests lay in many years of unjust and abusive prison policies and practices that affected not just Strangeways, but the British prison system as a whole. The conference will consider the deep history of British prisons, using the Strangeways protests as a signal moment in a wider history of problematic and abusive institutions.
Thirty years on, the dysfunctions and problems of the prison system that gave rise to the Strangeways protest are as pressing as ever. Indeed some would argue they are worse. Many prisons across Britain appear locked in a terminal spiral of decline and decay. The conference will take stock of the present state of prisons across the UK, and what current conditions say about British society and the way it treats some of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups.
The conference will also look forward, at the potential futures of prisons. Do prisons protect prisoners and the wider society? If not, do we need to think differently about the meaning of protection and safety in the twenty-first century? Are prisons eternal and immutable institutions, destined forever to be a feature of British society? Is it possible to think about different futures, including ones where far fewer people are imprisoned, or where prisons are no longer a mainstay of our response to crime?
Speakers to include:
- Alan Lord One of the Strangeways protestors
- John Crilly JENGbA Inside/Outside Campaigner
- Rex Bloomstein Film maker
- Joe Sim Liverpool John Moores University
- Eric Allison The Guardian
- Stephen Akpabio-Klementowski The Open University
- Jamie Bennett HM Prison and Probation Service
- Eamonn Carrabine University of Essex
- Deborah Coles Inquest
- Mary Corcoran Keele University
- Diane Curry POPS
- Richard Garside Centre for Crime and Justice Studies
- Gloria Morrison or Jan Cunliffe JENGbA
- Kate Paradine Women in Prison
- Elaine Player King’s College London
- Colin Prescod Institute of Race Relations
- David Scott The Open University
- Charlotte Weinberg Safe Ground
- Patrick Williams Manchester Metropolitan University
- Carolyne Willow Article 39