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Ben Jarman


Ben started his PhD in October 2018. His interest in prisons developed through professional work. Following a year as an intern at the Quaker Council for European Affairs, he went on to two separate stints with Clinks, where he researched the role played by volunteers in prisons and published guidance materials for organisations on evaluating volunteer impact. Ben also served for three years as Fine Cell Work‘s Volunteers & Programmes Manager. Work with these organisations brought him into prisons of every type. He had previously taught history and politics in secondary schools for several years.

Ben’s PhD is funded jointly by the ESRC and Quakers in Britain. Ben has been a Quaker since 2005. Quakers have a long-standing interest in prison conditions, originating with their official persecution and frequent imprisonment in the 17th century. They have long been involved with prison reform movements.


Education and background

2018–                                    Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge
PhD in Criminology - ‘Moral Economy and the pursuit of desistance’ – a qualitative study                                                         of personal and ethical change among prisoners serving life sentences for murder

2016–2017                           Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge
MPhil in Criminological Research (Pass with Distinction)

2008–2009                           Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
Certificate in Further Professional Development

2006–2007                           Institute of Education, University of London
Postgraduate Certificate in Education, Secondary History

2000–2003                           Robinson College, University of Cambridge
BA Hons in History and Theology (2:1)
                                             Winner, 2003 Lightfoot Prize for Ecclesiastical History

Research Interests

Ben’s PhD will be a qualitative study of long-term imprisonment, building on pilot research carried out for his MPhil. It will explore how lifers think about and pursue projects of personal change while serving very long sentences. The research will take a particular interest in:

  • the extent to which the changes they undergo can be thought of as desistance
  • the circumstances in which they make progress or become ‘stuck’
  • the moral distinctions they make based on the nature of their offences
  • the extent to which different moral discourses in prison life reinforce and support the change process

The PhD supervisor is Ben Crewe.

Ben’s main other interests are in historical criminology, the history of imprisonment, and the history of prison volunteers and voluntary organisations in criminal justice. In 2017/18 he worked with colleagues from Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh, conducting archival research on penal establishments where there have been allegations of non-recent child abuse by staff.

Key Publications


Journal articles                 Jarman, Ben, and Caroline Lanskey. 2019. ‘“A Poor Prospect Indeed”: The State’s Disavowal of Child Abuse Victims in Youth Custody, 1960–1990’. Societies 9 (2): 27.

Jarman, Ben. 2009. “When Were Jews in Medieval England Most in Danger? Exploring Change and Continuity with Year 7.” Teaching History 136: 4–12.


Policy papers                     Jarman, Ben. 2018. “Scandal and Reform, 1960-2016: Can Better Policies Guarantee Child Welfare in Secure Custody?” History & Policy. 2018.


Research reports             Jarman, Ben, Lucy Delap, Louise Jackson, Caroline Lanskey, Hannah Marshall, and Loraine Gelsthorpe. 2018. ‘Safeguarding Children in the Secure Estate, 1960-2016’. Apollo - University of Cambridge Repository.

Clinks. (2016). Valuing Volunteers in Prison: a review of volunteer involvement in prisons. London: Clinks. Available from

Casey, J., & Jarman, B. (2011). The social reintegration of ex-prisoners in Council of Europe member states. Brussels: Quaker Council for European Affairs. Available from


Practitioner resources   Jarman, Ben. 2012. “Evaluating Volunteer Impact: Tools to Help You Assess the Impact Made by Volunteers in the Criminal Justice System.” London: Clinks.

Jarman, Ben. 2012. “The Volunteering Relationship: What Works? Perspectives from Clinks’ Volunteering & Mentoring Programme.” London: Clinks.

Jarman, Ben. 2012. “Volunteering Case Studies: Highlighting Good Practice in the Recruitment, Engagement and Retention of Volunteers.” London: Clinks.