Prison through the eyes of prisoners – Research

Today, research in the penitentiary area is mostly focused on compliance of incarceration with laws of Ukraine and international standards. Various checks, inspections and monitoring visits have the same focus. They mostly reflect the level of respect to the rights of prisoners and the legality of administrative actions. However, the main object – people with their thoughts, feelings and specific perception of reality in the conditions of incarceration – is left out of scope. A British concept and methodology MQPL (Measuring the Quality of Prison Life) was used as the foundation for this research. It was created by Alison Liebling, professor of the Prisons Research Centre at Cambridge University. The unique nature of the above-mentioned methodology and its difference from other prison life research is in its focus on evaluation of the prison life through the eyes of prisoners. The emphasis is put on their subjective feelings. A research group from the Expert Center for Human Rights worked with a project manager and international experts to adjust the above-mentioned concept to the Ukrainian environment. An analysis of prison with a focus on a prisoner’s opinion takes us to a new quality level of evaluating the compliance of the penitentiary system to human needs. Besides that, understanding how prisoners see the prison helps us identify a number of problems that interfere with correction and re-socialization of prisoners and thus, the compliance of penitentiaries to their primary purpose. We should point out the pilot nature of the research. It intends to make a preliminary assessment of some areas of prison life. Its results can then be used as a basis for large-scale representative research aimed at in-depth analysis of correlations between factors and variables. The researchers also didn’t aim to conduct an in-depth analysis of reasons that cause certain problems in the work of penitentiaries. The main goal was to make a “snapshot” of the reality as seen by prisoners. At the same time, the results of the research can be used in further discussions with professionals and experts of the penitentiary field to identify ways to solve the problems.


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Translation by Oksana Vaschenko












Zlata Shvec, Project Manager