Biography

Professor Alison Liebling

Director of the Prisons Research Centre


Biography

Alison Liebling is Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Cambridge and the Director of the Institute of Criminology’s Prisons Research Centre. After completing an MA in Criminology at Hull University, for which she was granted a distinction, Alison worked on a study of young offender throughcare with Professor Keith Bottomley from 1986-7, before undertaking her PhD on suicides in prison at the Cambridge Institute of Criminology. During the years 1991-2000 she attracted research fellowships from Trinity Hall, Leverhulme and the ESRC (rated 'outstanding'), enabling her to carry out research on staff-prisoner relationships, the work of prison officers, vulnerability to suicide, small units for difficult prisoners, incentives and earned privileges, and prison privatization.

Her main interests lie in the changing shape and effects of imprisonment; the role of values in criminal justice; and in the role of safety, trust and fairness in shaping the prison experience.

She has carried out a significant programme of research on measuring the moral quality of prison life, the effectiveness of suicide prevention strategies in prison, and values, practices and outcomes in public and private sector corrections. This cumulative body of work, with others, has suggested that the concept of 'personal development' may function as an intermediate outcome measure when evaluating the effects of prison sentences. She is particularly interested in the role of prison officers, in general, but also in bridging the 'gap' between interventions and the prison environment. Her most recent research is on prison privatization, and staff-prisoner relationships and prisoner social organisation in high security prisons.

She has recently been awarded new research contracts to explore the measurement and conceptualization of prison climates and cultures, an evaluation of drug recovery wings (with a team from York University), and the building of trust in high security settings.

She has 7 current PhD students. She is interested in receiving future PhD applications in the areas above, or in areas related to the prison experience, the work of prison officers, and in the prevention of ill-treatment, in the UK or elsewhere.

Alison has published several books, including Suicides in Prison (1992), Prisons and their Moral Performance: A Study of Values, Quality and Prison Life (2004) and (with Shadd Maruna) The Effects of Imprisonment (2005). She has also published widely in criminological journals. She has recently completed a repeat of a highly regarded study of staff-prisoner relationships at Whitemoor high security prison, which explored the changing nature of high security prison dynamics, as well as a second edition of her book, The Prison Officer, and an edited collection on prison officers and prison culture (in the European Journal of Criminology), in which she reflects on what is distinctive about the work, skills and expertise of prison officers.

Books

Legitimacy and Criminal Justice

Legitimacy and Criminal Justice

Liebling, A., Tankebe, J. (2013) Legitimacy and Criminal Justice: An International Exploration. A landmark work presenting comprehensive theoretical, empirical and political analysis of the sources and problems of criminal justice legitimacy, Oxford University Press

Prisons and their Moral Performance: A Study of Values, Quality and Prison Life, Oxford: Clarendon Studies in Criminology

The Effects of Imprisonment

Liebling, A. and Maruna, S. (eds) (2005) The Effects of Imprisonment, Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing

Prisons and their Moral Performance: A Study of Values, Quality and Prison Life, Oxford: Clarendon Studies in Criminology

The Prison Officer

Liebling, A., Price, D. and Shefer, G. (2011) The Prison Officer, 2nd edition, Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing

Recent book chapters:

Liebling, A (2013) 'Threats to Legitimacy in High Security Prisons', in Tankebe and Liebling, A (eds) Legitimacy in Criminal Justice: An International Exploration. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Liebling, A (2013) 'Postscript: Integrity and Emotion in Prisons Research', in Y Jewkes (ed) Qualitative Inquiry: Doing Prison Research Differently, in press.

Digard, L. and Liebling, A. (in press) 'All Together Now: The Effects of Learning and Evaluating Gamelan in a Women's Prison', forthcoming in L. Cheliotis (ed) The Arts of Imprisonment: Control, Resistance and Empowerment. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.

Crewe, B. and Liebling, A. (2011) 'Are Liberal Humanitarian Penal Values and Practices Exceptional?', forthcoming in T. Ugelvik, J. Dullum and T. Mathiesen (eds) Nordic prison practice and policy - exception or not? Exploring penal exceptionalism in the Nordic context(s). Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.

Liebling, A., Crewe, B. and Hulley, S. (2011) 'Conceptualising and Measuring the Quality of Prison Life', forthcoming in D. Gadd, S. Karstedt and S. F. Messner (eds) The Sage Handbook of Criminological Research Methods, London: Sage Publishing.

Liebling, A. (2010) ''Governmentality' and Governing Corrections: Do Senior Managers Resist?' in L. Cheliotis (ed) Roots, Rites and Sites of Resistance: The Banality of Good. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan Publishing.

Liebling, A. (2008) ''Titan' Prisons: do size, efficiency and legitimacy matter?', in M. Hough, R. Allen and E. Solomon (eds) Tackling Prison Overcrowding: Build More Prisons? Sentence Fewer Offenders? Bristol: Policy Press, pp. 63-80.

Liebling, A. (2008) 'Why Prison Staff Culture Matters', in J. M. Byrne, D. Hummer and F. S. Taxman (eds) The Culture of Prison Violence. Allyn and Bacon Publishing, Boston USA, pp. 105-122.

McLean, C. and Liebling A. (2008) 'Prison Staff in the Public and Private Sector', in J. Bennett, B. Crewe and A. Wahidin (eds) Understanding Prison Staff. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing, pp: 92-114.

Liebling, A. (2008) 'Effects of Imprisonment', in Y. Jewkes and J. Bennett (eds) Dictionary of Prisons and Punishment. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing, pp. 79-81.

Liebling, A. (2008) 'Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP)', in Y. Jewkes and J. Bennett (eds) Dictionary of Prisons and Punishment. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing, pp. 134-136.

Liebling, A. (2008) 'Measuring the Quality of Prison Life (MQPL)', in Y. Jewkes and J. Bennett (eds) Dictionary of Prisons and Punishment. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing, pp. 163-164.

Liebling, A. (2008) 'Suicide in Prison', in Y. Jewkes and J. Bennett (eds) Dictionary of Prisons and Punishment. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing, pp. 284-285.


Recent articles

Liebling, A (forthcoming) 'The Value of Qualitative Research for Advancing Criminological Theory'

Liebling, A and Arnold, H. (2012) 'Social relationships between prisoners in a maximum security prison: violence, faith, and the declining nature of trust', Journal of Criminal Justice, 40(5): 413-424.

Liebling, A and Straub, C. (2012) 'Identity challenges and the risks of radicalisation in high security prisons', Prison Service Journal: Special Edition, Combating Extremism and Terrorism, 203: 15-22.

Liebling, A (2011) 'Moral performance, inhuman and degrading treatment, and prison pain', Punishment and Society, 13(5): 530-550.

Recent Book Chapters

Liebling, A (2013) 'Threats to Legitimacy in High Security Prisons', in Tankebe and Liebling, A (eds) Legitimacy in Criminal Justice: An International Exploration. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Liebling, A (2013) 'Postscript: Integrity and Emotion in Prisons Research', in Y Jewkes (ed) Qualitative Inquiry: Doing Prison Research Differently, in press.

Crewe, B., Liebling, A. and Hulley, S. (2011) 'Staff Culture, Use of Authority and Prisoner Quality of Life in Public and Private Sector Prisons',Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 44(1): 94-115.

Liebling, A., Crewe, B. and Hulley, S. (2011) 'Values and Practices in Public and Private Sector Prisons: A Summary of Key Findings from and Evaluation', in Prison Service Journal, No.196, pp. 55-58.

Crewe, B., Liebling, A., Hulley, S. and McLean, C. (2010) 'Prisoner Quality of Life in Public and Private Sector Prisons' (under review)

Liebling, A. (2009) 'Identifying and Measuring Prison Moral Climates' in The Correctional Psychologist, IACFP quarterly newsletter, International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology (IACFP).

Liebling, A. (2008) 'Incentives and Earned Privileges Revisited: Fairness, Discretion, and the Quality of Prison Life', in Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention 9: 25-41.

Ross, M. W., Diamond, P., Liebling, A. and Saylor, W. G. (2008) 'Measurement of Prison Social Climate: A comparison of an inmate measure in England and the US'Punishment and Society, 10(4): 449-476.

Shefer, G. and Liebling, A. (2008) 'Prison Privatisation: In search of a business-like atmosphere?' Criminology and Criminal Justice, 8(3): 261-278.

Liebling, A. (2006) 'Prisons in Transition'International Journal of Psychiatry and Law, 29: 422-430.

Cheliotis, L. and Liebling, A. (2006) 'Race Matters in British Prisons: Towards a Research Agenda'British Journal of Criminology 46(2): 286-317.


Other

Liebling, A (2012) 'What makes prisons survivable? Towards a theory of human flourishing in prison', paper delivered at SCCJR 7th Annual Lecture, University of Edinburgh, 23 May 2013

Liebling, A, Arnold, H and Straub, C (2012) An Exploration of Staff-Prisoner Relationships at HMP Whitemoor: Twelve Years On, London: National Offender Management Service.

Liebling, A, and Kougiali, Z. (2013), 'Harmony behind bars? The therapeutic potential of prison based music and other arts programmes.' Keynote presentation at Sharing good Vibrations Conference South Bank Centre, London 17-20 October 2013.

Liebling A.; Tait, S.; Durie, L.; Stiles, A. and Harvey J.; assisted by Rose, G. (2005) An Evaluation of the Safer Locals Programme, Institute of Criminology, Cambridge: University of Cambridge.


Professor Alison Liebling welcomes PhD applications in all areas of prisons research, including prison quality and conditions, potential improvements to regimes and the prisoner experience, the working lives of prison staff, the values and practices of prison managers, and resettlement.