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Comparative Penology

Institute of Criminology

By Daria Przybylska

The prison is an institution saturated with power. As such, prisons are ‘exemplary sites for the study of power’ (Liebling and Crewe 2012: 895). Yet, whereas the subject of power has been interrogated at length within men’s prisons, it has remained peripheral to studies of women’s imprisonment. Alison Liebling emphasises that ‘studies of women in prison have tended to focus on themes relevant to their status as ‘women’ rather than on themes relevant to the prison: such as power, authority, and justice (Liebling 2009: 20, emphasis added). I focus on this by exploring the nature of staff-prisoner relationships. These relationships were multi-faceted, complex, and rife with power – and the imprisoned women deliberately and carefully navigated them, negotiating the relational power yielded over them by their custodians.

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logo The Comparative Penology Group is led by Dr Ben Crewe and his research team who, since 2016, have been working on a five-year project titled: 'Penal policymaking and the prisoner experience: a comparative analysis'.

The research is based in England & Wales, and Norway, and involves four inter-related studies of (a) penal policymaking and the penal field (b) the experience of entry into and release from custody (c) the daily experiences of female prisoners and imprisoned sex offenders, and (d) prisoners in the most secure parts of each jurisdiction's prison system.

This project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC).








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