Experiencing very long term imprisonment from young adulthood: identity, adaptation and penal legitimacy
- Start date: 31 July 2012
- End date: 30 July 2014
This study will explore the experiences of prisoners who are given very long sentences (15 years or more) when aged under twenty-one. Around one hundred interviews will be conducted with prisoners at various stages of such sentences, as well a smaller number of interviews with prison staff and managers.
The main aim is to provide a detailed account of the experiences of these prisoners, focussing on three main areas:
- how they cope with (and develop during) such long sentences, and how they manage issues of self and identity
- how they adapt socially to imprisonment, in particular, their relationships with staff and other prisoners, and their levels of compliance, engagement and resistance
- how their sentence conditions and lives prior to imprisonment shape their perceptions of penal legitimacy.
The research will contribute to policy and practice in a range of areas, for example, by better informing relevant policymakers and practitioners about the consequences of new sentencing practices, about the needs of this group of very long-term prisoners, and about the operational challenges resulting from the growing number of prisoners serving very long sentences from an early age.