Dr. Serena Wright

Visiting Scholar


Following the completion of her undergraduate degree - a BSc (Hons) degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Portsmouth - Serena sought to combine her continued criminological studies with a range of full-time and volunteer roles within the public sector. Between the completion of her Bachelor's and Master's degrees, she was employed full-time at a residential alcohol and drug detoxification facility, as well as joining the Independent Monitoring Board in a voluntary role at HM Prison Kingston, becoming one of its youngest key-carrying members in the UK. Serena then went on to complete her MSc degree in Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Social Research, at the University of Surrey. During the completion of her Master's degree, Serena also worked full-time in a dual capacity as an Independent Domestic Violence Advocate [IDVA], and as an Independent Sexual Violence Advocate [ISVA] at Hampshire's Sexual Assault Referral Centre [SARC].

Serena has recently successfully defended her doctoral thesis, being supervised at the University of Surrey, which provides the first qualitative piece of research into the lived experience of women identified as Prolific and other Priority Offenders. The thesis also involves a broader exploration of the lives and narrated identities of repeatedly criminalised women, and their experiences (both mandated and voluntary) with the penal system.

Serena joined the Institute in October 2012 to work within the Prisons Research Centre team, alongside Dr Ben Crewe and Dr Susie Hulley, on a two-year ESRC-funded study, titled: 'Experiencing very long term imprisonment from young adulthood: identity, adaptation and penal legitimacy'. This initial study explored the experiences of male prisoners who are given very long sentences (15 years or more) when aged 25 and under. Serena is currently back in the field, this time interviewing women who were given life sentences with a tariff of 15 years or more when aged 25 and under. Through this study, Ben, Susie, and Serena hope to interview all 27 women in the prison estate who fit these criteria; a first in criminological research.

She is currently co-authoring several book chapters, including one on researching the prison with Professor Yvonne Jewkes of University of Leicester, one on women and the criminal justice system with Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe of University of Cambridge, and one on the experience of 'going in green' to prison research with Dr Jennifer Sloan of Sheffield Hallam University.

Her research interests include narrative methods of data collection and analysis; gendering the experience of criminal justice; life history research; the broad and developing field of narrative criminology; repeatedly criminalised women; the experience, nature, and texture of imprisonment (both short- and long-term); and prisoner identities and adaptations.