Writing together, challenges and practices of collective working

SPARC is unique as a research group in that several members are serving prisoners who began their studies in custody. However, it should come as no surprise that functioning as a collective while half the members are incarcerated has proved challenging. Not simply for the basic logistical issues of communication and meeting, but for the […]

Why penal reductionism must be at the centre of prison reform 

Once you are in it is difficult to get out. It is well established that prisons do not reduce re-offending. For individuals released from custody in 2014-15 (the last year where detailed statistics were published by the Scottish Government) 60% of those serving a sentence of less than three months were reconvicted. While reconviction rates […]

Inequality, Security and Punitivity in Institutions: Academia on Strike

University academic staff in the UK (61 out of around 130 total in the UK) have been on strike for over 14 days now,  and many of us in SPARC have been directly participating in the industrial action joining the pickets, cancelling classes and otherwise directly intervening in the dispute. The immediate issue at stake […]

Ross Kemp Behind Bars: Hiding from the hard questions in Barlinnie

Last week we saw actor and documentary maker Ross Kemp spend time in Glasgow’s Barlinnie prison, in an attempt to address a question which has long troubled academics, policy makers, and those sentenced to custody: what are prisons for? That Kemp and his documentary team selected Barlinnie to explore this question seems very much to […]

SPARC Response to Parole Reform Consultation

The Scottish Government ran a consultation in Sept/Oct 2017 on reform of parole. Download SPARC’s response. Among other points, it draws attention to the drastically declining rate of parole release and the increasing rate of parole recalls in Scotland. Did you know that in 1994 nearly one-third of lifers considered for parole received it, but […]