Utilise your departments connections!
With Leicester University ranked third for undergraduate Criminology studies in the UK, as one can imagine the amount of opportunities to visit key areas of the criminal justice system are almost endless!
With that being said, I wanted to share with you an experience I had that enabled me to really dig deep into what I have had a passion for, for many years. To meet and interview prison inmates…
It had always been a passion of mine, but one that I felt sceptical towards due to the extensive ethical regulations surrounding undergraduate students. However, following a brief meeting with my departmental coordinators and further to my surprise I was soon to be off to a high security prison. With the opportunity to meet with inmates undergoing a specialised rehabilitation programme.
HMP Grendon Underwood
So on the 15th of August I arrived at Leicester train station to get aboard a train in which would take me to Bicester, Oxfordshire. On arrival I would then take a taxi journey that would transport me to my destination of HMP Grendon Underwood. A therapeutic community prison specialised in bringing the latest in rehabilitation pioneering strategies to prison inmates with severe learning difficulties.
For the event I would be spending my time interacting with the inmates on F wing and taking part in their rehabilitation programmes. The initiatives have been instrumental in recent years in delivering fresh and innovative ideas in rehabilitation through the use of such activities as yoga, painting and musical therapy.
For instance, throughout these sessions inmates typically receive the opportunity to attain a high level of self expression and bonding amongst their fellow inmates and prison officers through the power of music. By using a musical instrument of their choice the inmates play the instruments in unison to make a collective sound. An activity that requires trust and collaboration from all members, creating a unique sense of collective acceptance. A similar sense of acceptance found throughout the following painting class, where inmates were given the opportunity to use a blank canvas to paint a particularly happy or troublesome time period throughout their life.
A Rare Opportunity
For those that are familiar with penal systems throughout England and Wales you shall already understand how much of a rarity it is to be able to perform such unique activities for rehabilitation purposes. But what is in fact even less common is the possibility of an undergraduate student witnessing such programmes at first hand, an experience that I remain very appreciative of. One that only became possible through the connections I have made with the Criminology Department at Leicester University.