Behind Bars conference gives students the chance to debate UK's criminal system

Petroc recently hosted the Behind Bars conference, where ex-offenders visited students to help them consider whether prison is an effective strategy to reduce crime.

Public Services, Health & Social Care, A-level Psychology, Law and Sociology, Access to HE and Foundation Degree students attended the one day event, and visiting pupils from Ilfracombe Academy and West Buckland also took part.

As crime continues to be a high profile issue, with over 87,000 prisoners behind bars in the UK, students developed a deeper understanding of the penal system; if prison is a place for punishment, retribution or rehabilitation, and what happens after prisoners are released back into society. Students heard from ex-offenders about their experiences of life ‘behind bars’, as well as having the opportunity to ask them questions.

Psychology student Evan Rouse wrote:

“The Behind Bars conference was a very real, raw and immersive experience that I enjoyed thoroughly. It was full of twists, turns and surprises that kept me captivated throughout. The conference allowed me to gain a good understanding of prison life and some of the implications of the British prison system. The ex-offenders introduced themselves as people that had committed serious crimes in a way that was somewhat shocking and unexpected. Their stories were emotional and thought provoking. It felt like a real honour to be able to be in a room with each of the ex-offenders and ask them questions. Their responses were thoughtful and seemed very truthful in the sense that they became emotional themselves. 

"I would definitely recommend the Behind Bars conference, especially for those who aspire to be involved in criminal psychology or law jobs as valuable insight into the type of work and the potential people to be dealt with can be gained.”

 Students also got the opportunity to try on different uniforms seen in prison.