Prisoners, Solitude, and Time

Prisoners, Solitude, and Time

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Examining two overlapping aspects of the prison experience that, despite their central importance, have not attracted the scholarly attention they deserve, this book assesses both the degree to which prisoners can withstand the rigours of solitude and how they experience the passing of time. In particular, it looks at how they deal with the potentially overwhelming prospect of a long, or even indefinite, period behind bars.

While the deleterious effects of penal isolation are well known, little systematic attention has been given to the factors associated with surviving, and even triumphing over, prolonged exposure to solitary confinement. Through a re-examination of the roles of silence and separation in penal policy, and by contrasting the prisoner experience with that of individuals who have sought out institutional solitariness (for example as members of certain religious orders), and others who have found
themselves held in solitary confinement although they committed no crime (such as hostages and some political prisoners), Prisoners, Solitude, and Time seeks to assess the impact of long-term isolation and the rationality of such treatment. In doing so, it aims to stimulate interest in a somewhat
neglected aspect of the prisoner's psychological world.

The book focuses on an aspect of the prison experience - time, its meanderings, measures, and meanings - that is seldom considered by academic commentators. Building upon prisoner narratives, academic critiques, official publications, personal communications, field visits, administrative statistics, reports of campaigning bodies, and other data, it presents a new framework for understanding the prison experience. The author concludes with a series of reflections on hope, the search for meaning,
posttraumatic growth, and the art of living.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 344 pages
  • 149 x 225 x 29mm | 564g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199684480
  • 9780199684489
  • 890,321

Table of contents

1. Historical Perspectives ; 2. Reconsidering the Effects of Silence and Separation ; 3. The (Certain) Pains and (Uncertain) Pleasures of Solitude ; 4. Pathological Loneliness ; 5. The Apotheosis of Solitary Confinement ; 6. Making the SHU Fit (for Purpose) ; 7. Lockdown, Infamy, and Inhuman Relations ; 8. Time Passes, Inescapably ; 9. Critical Fractions: Life Lived and Life Left ; 10. Taming Time and Reframing Isolation ; 11. Withstanding Time's Abrasion
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Review quote

Engaging ... rich ... nuanced ... a fascinating and thought-provoking book. * Susie Hulley, The Irish Jurist, 2015: Vol.53 * Fascinating... the intellectual fruit of many years of close thought, reflection and analysis... an important text that offers rich material with which to make sense of the experience of contemporary imprisonment * Jamie Bennett, Prison Service Journal * An engaging, beautifully written book that merits careful reading. It is bold in its scope and full of ideas. * Sharon Shalev, Rutgers Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books * This book is based on a wealth of diverse sources [and] makes a considerable contribution to prison and detention scholarship. [It is] new and enthralling...deep and considered engagement. * Deborah Drake, Theoretical Criminology * A new and unique perspective...a thoroughly interesting and thought-provoking read. * David Sheldon, Howard Journal of Crime and Justice * And that is the great triumph of this book: it conveys the complex, intensely personal, unpredictable experience of solitary confinement for a range of individuals who were persistently treated as less than human, but who refused, nonetheless, to relinquish their humanity. * Karamet Reieter, British Journal of Criminology * ...brings home to the readera visceral sense of the pains of isolation...Overall, this is, undeniably, a beautifully written book. * Sarah Armstrong, Theoretical Criminology, Vol. 20: May 2016 * Overall, this is a wonderful, thorough and nuanced piece of scholarship. It is balanced and dispassionate and is a lesson in scholarly pluralism, combining historical research, detailed reviews of psychological studies, and analysis of prisoner memoirs and letters. It is also tremendously stimulating. * Ben Crewe, Punishment & Society * A particularly valuable contribution to penal literature ... profound and important ... a beautifully written and excellently researched work. * Michael D Higgins, President of Ireland- 2016 *
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About Ian O'Donnell

Ian O'Donnell is Professor of Criminology at University College Dublin and an Adjunct Fellow of Linacre College, Oxford. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and a Member of the Academia Europaea.
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