Experiencing Prison 7th Global Conference
March 17 – March 19
Experiencing Prison
7th Global Conference
Call for Participation 2016

Thursday 17th March – Saturday 19th March 2016
Budapest, Hungary

It is estimated there are currently around 9 million people in prisons across the globe. Statistics can tell us which countries or regions have the highest rates of incarceration. Statistics can tell us about the most common offenses, subdivided by race and sex of offender. Statistics can record the number of assaults and fatalities among inmates. What these numbers cannot convey is the essence of what it means to be a prisoner and what the prison experience entails for those being punished as well as for those overseeing the punishment. We may catch glimpses of what that experience is like in news reports on prison conditions in institutions at home and around the world. We may even glean some sense of the reality of prison life from watching or reading stories set in prison, such as Orange is the New Black, The Shawshank Redemption and Wentworth. Yet, unless we have direct or indirect experience with the prison environment, our awareness of the issues and challenges associated with maintaining a just and fair prison system is often dependent upon media coverage that fails to convey the complexities and nuances of these matters.

The Prison conference provides a platform for inter-disciplinary dialogues aimed at grappling with questions around the purpose, effectiveness, legitimacy and social impact of prisons. Participants will explore questions about the justifications for withdrawing the freedom of another human being, the fairness of legal processes used to determine guilt, the usefulness of incarceration as a mode of punishment, ethical treatment of prisoners and the impact of the legal and economic structures that support prison systems around the world. Carefully attention will also be devoted to the many facets of the prison experience, as well as the cultural mechanisms that inform our understanding of it.

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Friday 18th March 2016
09.00 Session 3: Segregation and Space
Chair: Alison Spurgeon-Dickson

From Near and Inside: Descriptions of the Prison Environment
Suzann Cordeiro de Lima
KU Leuven, Belgium

Key Words:
Prison system, prison architecture and humanization, interactional analyses, relationship between prisoners and prison system.

Contemporary architecture is in a period of technological transition and changing cultural values, although it considers each historical time which belongs a line of thinking and a production resulting from these thinking that reference space-time. The materialization of these ideas had different methods of construction, linked to the cultural values of that time, resulting in buildings considered as an expression of the concepts and theories of each historical moment.
In the specific case of the Prison architecture, the concrete realization of concepts is sometimes unknown to society, a fact that complicates understanding of the penitentiary system, bringing forth the necessity to present them, in order to use this description as an analytical element in the planning of prison spaces.
The contrast between an idealized environment and an experienced environment seems to expose a key issue in architecture: architects don’t design for a hypothetical ideal man or middle man, as an ideal subject prototype with prototypical, planned and homogenous actions, which eliminate the emergence of novalty, but they design for the “common man” with his individuality and who is thus endowed with subjectivity: a subject. Taking this complex aspect into account is a condition for creating good architecture.
The research showed here (PHD research) intend to describe the interactional relationship between prisoners and prison environment, where the goal was to understand the social function of the Brazilian prison space and to compare the socio-political point of view to reality. The researcher immersed herself in a male prison for 45 days, registering the responses of the users to the space, who were seeking to maintain aspects of their identity. This research sets up an empirical qualitative approach, adopting the case study as research method for this phenomenon (i.e. the relation between prisoners and space).

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