What do prisoners need to learn? Find out from a new book featuring SSE

18 Apr 2018

Life Beyond Crime: What do those at risk of offending, prisoners and ex-offenders need to learn? edited by Paul Crane, brings together in an insightful and passionate debate, through prose, poems and pictures the assembled first-hand experience and wisdom of more than 60 contributors responding to the question: “What do those at risk of offending, prisoners and ex-offenders need to learn?”

Contributors include current and former prisoners including the work of artists and poets who have been recognised by Koestler awards; criminal justice practitioners; educators and academics; as well writers from the voluntary and arts worlds including theatre director Phyllida Lloyd, lyricist Sir Richard Stilgoe and sculptor Sir Antony Gormley.

The School for Social Entrepreneurs has contributed a chapter too, authored by SSE fellow Sheena Leaf. Sheena writes with great conviction about the contribution of social entrepreneurs to helping people turn their lives around, some of them ex-offenders themselves.

Learning and understanding are discussed in their widest sense, covering not just formal learning and learning skills, but also – and most importantly – learning about yourself, your past and future identity, your family life and your aspirations and role in society.  These insights and experiences are explored in the contexts of diversion from crime, young people, adults in prison, and returning to the community.

What are people saying about Life Beyond Crime?

“An extremely informative and deeply insightful piece of work with the potential to have a widespread positive impact across the whole of the prison system….By any measure it is a remarkable achievement.” – Erwin James, Inside Time and The Guardian 

“This book is a precious gift to justice professionals and those experiencing the justice system: victims and offenders, and their families – and to society as a whole. Its rich collection of positive ways forward to change criminal behaviour challenge the default pessimism in the media and among politicians about the value of doing more than punishing. This is an inspiring and moving practical handbook for change. This book should be compulsory reading for all of us who believe in the capacity of human beings to change if given the right opportunity.” – Roger Graef OBE, film maker and criminologist; Visiting Professor, Mannheim Centre for Criminology, London School of Economics

“It is rare to read a hopeful book on prisons today. This is a colourful and glorious festival of short individual contributions, underlining the importance of engaging with others and of sharing our common humanity, despite the many walls which divide us. Everyone should join the conversation: it’s all about recognising the value in every individual and about reaching out to encourage those who struggle”. – Nicola Padfield, Professor of Criminal and Penal Justice, University of Cambridge; Master, Fitzwilliam College

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