University of Greenwich student, Madeleine Hatton, an undergraduate Criminology and Criminology Psychology programme, expressed how she felt about the experience of working withing the prison system: “I feel that gaining a variety of experiences in the criminal justice system is invaluable. Earlier this year I gained a unique experience through my involvement with the Inside-Out programme, where I completed a criminology module inside of a prison”.
Madeleine worked closely with the prison policy team and completed a variety of activities, including conducting a literature review into the coping mechanisms for self-harm and suicide in prisons during a lockdown, writing a policy paper on the same topic, and then presenting the main findings of this paper to the prison policy team.
“This module was extremely eye-opening and has encouraged me to widen my future career path to potentially working within the prison system. Over the lockdown period, I was fortunate enough to gain two weeks work experience with the Ministry of Justice”.
Although the lockdown in response to COVID-19 in prison has been one of the largest, it is not the first prison lockdown to occur. There have previously been prison lockdowns due to viral outbreaks and prison riots, amongst other reasons, so there is a lot to learn about prison lockdown responses, easing restrictions, and the impact this has on self-harm and suicide of incarcerated people and the staff who work in and around prisons. This policy paper explores the different aspects of self-harm and suicide in relation to the prison lockdown, additional coping strategies after lockdown restrictions are eased, and recommendations for the policy professionals.
The literature review highlighted multiple areas of research surrounding self-harm and suicide in prisons that require further research, listed in the research paper. The student found “the opportunity was challenging as the work revolved around investigating suicide and self-harm, as well as mental health and the impacts of COVID-19 on inmates, their friends and family, and the staff members”.
Madeleine concluded that “this experience was a preview of the work the Ministry of Justice do each day, and the pace and pressure of working here. Though, this has definitely fulfilled my aspirations for working for the Civil Service in the future. All of my work placement activities were completed remotely due to COVID-19, but this did not hamper my enjoyment of what proved to be an insightful experience. This opportunity has furthered my confidence in why the degree I do is so important, as we are the future generation of people that will hopefully be in the position to be able to make positive changes in the criminal justice system”.
Congratulations to Madeleine and the School of Law & Criminology for stealing the spotlight!