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Thomas Hawker

Thomas Hawker

Ph.D Student


Tom is currently a College Teaching Associate and Bye-Fellow at Downing College, where he is the Director of Studies for second year Law students. He teaches Criminology, Sentencing and the Penal System (CSPS), as well as Criminal Law. He first came to Cambridge to read Law at Downing (2010-13), and received the prize for CSPS in his second year, before graduating (First Class). His final-year dissertation considered whether the 'just deserts' approach to sentencing might necessitate the use of rituals to reintegrate ex-offenders back into society following sentences of imprisonment. He then undertook the M.Phil in Criminological Research at the Institute of Criminology, having been awarded an ESRC 1+3 Studentship. Tom's M.Phil thesis explored the effects of interaction with prisoners on attitudes held towards them. This involved examining the change in attitudes of student choristers towards prisoners during choral workshops in a local prison.

In the summer of 2012 Tom spent six weeks in Houston volunteering as an intern with the Texas Defender Service, a non-profit organisation dedicated to combating the systemic flaws in the Texas death penalty system. He has also carried out research for Restorative Solutions CIC.

Research Interests

Tom's ESRC-funded research is entitled 'Punishment and communication: perceptions of penal messages in sentencing.' The research has involved observing the sentencing process in court, from the sentencing hearing through to the declaration of sentence, and asking sentencers what they are trying to communicate, to whom, and with what effect. Tom is exploring how this particular authoritative interaction can be used as a 'teachable moment', with a view to enhancing the legitimacy and effectiveness of sentencing. The project is supervised by Professor Nicola Padfield and Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe.