Introduction: Challenges of Contemporary Prison Research


The main driver for this special issue was a profound concern about prison research and its future. The development of penal policy these days seems to be driven by levers such as increasing ‘law and order’ discourse which claims that the use of imprisonment is legitimate and that ‘prison works’; neo-liberal punitiveness in the implementation of imprisonment; and a managerial focus on ‘what works’ in prisons. This situation carries the risks that statutory agencies and academic researchers are drifting apart, which might jeopardise both the future of prison research and the evidence base of penal policy.

The focus of this special issue is not on the ‘findings’ of prison research but, more importantly, on ‘how’ we do it and ‘why’ we do it certain ways, including the many legitimate concerns around access, choice of method, managing field work and communicating results, as well as ethical dilemmas that arise in all of these situations. We provide space for this very important discussion, reflecting not only the practical challenges of researching a total institution but also the politics which permeates every stage of such research. We invite you, the reader, to join us in this conversation.

Download the PDF file from this page to find out more about this special edition.

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Published: 2015-04-01
Pages:1 to 3
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How to Cite
Tubex, H. and Eriksson, A. (2015) “Introduction: Challenges of Contemporary Prison Research”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 4(1), pp. 1-3. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v4i1.217.

Author Biographies

The University of Western Australia

Hilde Tubex is Associate Professor and Deputy Head of School, Research at the Law School of the University of Western Australia. Her areas of expertise are comparative criminology and penal policy, Indigenous peoples and the criminal justice system. She received an ARC Future Fellowship studying the difference in imprisonment rates within Australia, with a focus on Indigenous overrepresentation. She is currently working on a Criminology Research Grant to develop effective throughcare for Indigenous offenders.


Anna Eriksson is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and has been working at Monash University since 2007. Originally from Sweden, she completed her undergraduate in criminology and behaviour science at Griffith University, Australia, before an MPhil in criminology at Cambridge, and a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast. In 2009, she received the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology New Scholar of the Year Award and the same year she was also a Visiting Fellow at King’s College London. In 2011, she was awarded one of only two Australian Research Council DECRAs in criminology for a 3-year project on comparative penology, where she will explore processes of ‘othering’ in the penal systems in Australia and Sweden.