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Research article about d/Deaf prisoners wins national award

Dr Laura Kelly has won the Prison Service Journal Outstanding Article of the Year

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) academic has won an inaugural prize for her research into the experiences of both medically deaf and culturally and linguistically Deaf prisoners (d/Deaf).

Dr Laura Kelly, a Lecturer in criminology, received the Prison Service Journal Outstanding Article of the Year 2017 for her work entitled Suffering in Silence: The unmet needs of d/Deaf prisoners.

She said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have won this prestigious award from such a widely read journal within the sector. The Prison Service Journal Editorial Board is made up of some of the most well-known and established prison researchers, and senior members of the Prison Service, so for them to choose me as the winner is fantastic.

“My work is the most in-depth research yet to be carried out about d/Deaf prisoners in England and Wales so it has provided a level of insight which has not been available previously.”

By giving voice to d/Deaf people in prison, Dr Kelly does much to build understanding, identify practical steps that might be taken to ameliorate the pains of imprisonment, and challenge the causes of cultural and social marginalisation.

Dr Kelly’s article presented findings from her doctoral research which explored the experiences of d/Deaf prisoners in England and Wales via the use of interviews with prisoners and staff members from seven prisons in England. The article showed that the Prison Service is currently failing to meet the needs of d/Deaf people in prison in any consistent way. Consequently, these individuals are often forced to live in a form of continual solitary confinement through no fault of their own.

The Prison Service Journal Editorial Board commented: “The article is a sensitive and in-depth study based upon interviews with d/Deaf prisoners in order to reveal their experiences and illuminate the often hidden harms they face. This research focusses on people who are often overlooked and whose needs are not clearly understood. By giving voice to d/Deaf people in prison, Dr Kelly does much to build understanding, identify practical steps that might be taken to ameliorate the pains of imprisonment, and challenge the causes of cultural and social marginalisation. This article is a significant and important contribution that deserves to be read by those who are involved in prisons.”

The Prison Service Journal is a peer reviewed journal published by HM Prison Service of England and Wales. Its purpose is to promote discussion on issues related to the work of the Prison Service, the wider criminal justice system and associated fields. It aims to present reliable information and a range of views about these issues.

Dr Kelly, who comes from South Manchester, will be presented with her award at HMP Grendon on 29 June.

The article is available here.


Prizewinner, Criminology Lecturer Dr Laura Kelly

Rachel Atkinson | 10 April 2018