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Sophie Ellis

Biography:

For the first nine years of my career, I delivered forensic psychological services in the Prison Service. I primarily delivered cognitive-behavioural interventions to adult male prisoners, including session delivery, assessment, referral management and staff supervision. Latterly I specialised in working with men with a repetitive history of serious violence. I also conducted psychological assessments for both general violence and intimate partner violence, to establish nature of risk and psychological needs. Much of this work was with men serving indeterminate sentences or extended determinate sentences.

During my time in the Prison Service, I conducted research on prison violence from a desistance perspective, exploring the desistance pathways of prisoners who began their custodial sentences with violence and reduced this behaviour over their time in prison. I explored what distinguished these men from their counterparts who continued violent behaviour in prison, and how they desisted within an environment that typically experiences elevated levels of violence. This MSc thesis was later published as a paper entitled ‘Factors associated with desistance from violence in prison’ (see Publications). I also held a position on the regional Research Board, reviewing research proposals and providing consultancy for researchers wishing to conduct studies in a secure setting. I continue to provide informal consultancy on prison based research proposals, to researchers inside and outside the Service.

In 2017, I moved to a Research Assistant post at Cambridge University. For two years, I worked on the Families and Imprisonment Research (FAIR) Study: an 8 year mixed methods longitudinal study of imprisoned fathers, their partners and their children. Publications in progress include a methodological paper exploring contextual factors in longitudinal retention, and a paper exploring the narratives of ethnic minority families who have experienced paternal imprisonment.

My central concern is how to best deliver a system that is fair, humane and helpful to prisoners, and to those affected by their imprisonment. Working across psychological and criminological disciplines has made me deeply interested in how findings from criminology can be better utilised in the frontline work of psychological service delivery to prisoners. I am currently undertaking my PhD with the Prisons Research Centre at Cambridge, with the working title ‘The delivery of prison based psychology services’. I am hoping to explore these services within a theoretical framework of legitimacy, and to understand how both psychologists and prisoners experience psychology in a prison environment.

More broadly, I am interested in the contextual, social and cultural factors that influence prisoner experiences of risk management and rehabilitation. Currently I am particularly interested in how to resolve the issue of prisoners still serving an Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP), a sentence that was banned in 2012 and now widely condemned as illegitimate.

Key Publications

Ellis, S. and Bowen, E. (2017). Factors associated with desistance from violence in prison: An exploratory study. Psychology, Crime and Law, 23, 1-19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1068316X.2017.1290090

Other Publications

Conference Presentations:

Ellis, S., Lanskey, C., Loesel, F., Markson, L., Souza, K., & Barton-Crosby, J. (2019, June). Families affected by paternal imprisonment in the UK: Ethnic and cultural perspectives. Paper presented at the Families and Imprisonment Research Conference, Cambridge: UK.

 

Markson, L, Ellis, S., Lanskey, C., Barton-Crosby, J. & Losel, F. (2018, November). Long-term experiences of addiction for previously imprisoned fathers. Paper presented at the American Society of Criminology Annual Conference, Atlanta.  

 

Ellis, S., Losel, F., Lanskey, C., Markson, L & Barton-Crosby, J. (2018, August). Transience, transition and trust: Themes from participant retention in the Families and Imprisonment Research Study. Paper presented at the European Society of Criminology Annual Conference, Sarajevo.

 

Ellis, S., Losel, F., Lanskey, C., Markson, L & Barton-Crosby, J. (2018, June). Transience, transition and trust: Themes from participant retention in the Families and Imprisonment Research Study. Paper presented at the Division of Forensic Psychology Annual Conference, Newcastle.

 

Ellis, S. (2018, June). Violence prevention in prisons: The gap between theory, practice and lived experience. Paper presented at the Center for Violence Prevention Annual Conference, Worcester.

 

Ellis, S. and Bowen, E. (2017, June). Factors associated with desistance from violence in prison: An exploratory study. Paper presented at the 26th Division of Forensic Psychology Annual Conference, Bristol: United Kingdom.

 

Articles:

Ellis, S. (2018). Why the public needs to force a conversation with the Government about prisons. i. Retrieved from  https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/uk-government-prisons-self-harm-assault/

 

Ellis, S. (2018). Prisons will only improve if the public demands change. The Conversation. Retrieved from  http://theconversation.com/prisons-will-only-improve-if-the-public-demands-change-93157

Ellis, S. (2017). Psychologists call for research into Universal Basic Income. Retrieved from https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/psychologists-call-research-universal-basic-income

Ellis, S. (2017). No alternative facts, just alternative hypotheses. (Coverage of the March for Science event in April 2017). Retrieved from https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/no-alternative-facts-just-alternative-hypotheses

Ellis, S. (2008). The contribution of the study of visual illusions to our understanding of the processes involved in visual perception. Psych-Talk, 61, 21-27.