After Strangeways: Webinar 5

Online event via Zoom
26 February 2021 - 9:30am to 11:30am

Beyond reform: Challenging two hundred years of failure

This is the final of five webinars, being held to mark the 1990 Strangeways prisons protest and the official report on the protest, published in February 1991.

This webinar will discuss the failed prison experiment of the past two centuries and consider whether a future without prisons is possible.

About the webinar series

The 25-day protest in April 1990 at Strangeways prison in Manchester was the longest prison protest in British history. A report into the protests by Lord Justice Woolf, published the following year in February 1991, laid bare some of the dysfunctions of the prison system that gave rise to the protests. Welcomed by some, others considered it a missed opportunity.

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.

In five webinars over five days, we will:

  • Discuss the background to the Strangeways protest.
  • Recount what happened in those 25 days in April 1990 and the immediate consequences.
  • Review the failed attempts to reform the prison system, and address systemic injustices in prisons, since the Strangeways protest.
  • Take a long view on 200 hundred years of failure in prisons and consider a future in which prisons are no longer a mainstay of our response to crime.

About this webinar

This final webinar in the series will discuss two hundred years of the failed prison experiment and look to the future. 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 prisons are no longer a mainstay of our response to crime?

Speakers to include

  • Joe Sim, Professor of Criminology at Liverpool John Moores University and leading author and researcher on prisons and imprisonment
  • Jamie Bennett, Deputy Director for Security, Order and Counter Terrorism in HM Prison & Probation Service, former-prison governor. Research Associate, University of Oxford. Editor of Prison Service Journal. Author of The working lives of prison managers
  • Mary Corcoran, Reader in Criminology and Director of programmes in Criminology at Keele University and leading author and research on prisons, women in criminal justice, and civil society organisations in criminal justice
  • David Scott, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at The Open University and author of a number of books, including Against Imprisonment and, with Michael Coyle, editor of the International Handbook of Penal Abolition

About the other webinars in this series

  • Monday, 22 February: Prisons before the Strangeways protest
  • Tuesday, 23 February: The Strangeways protest and aftermath
  • Wednesday, 24 February: Thirty years of failure in prison reform since Strangeways
  • Thursday, 26 February: Thirty years of failure in tackling prison injustices since Strangeways