Book review: Philosophy Behind Bars: Growth and Development in Prison

Published date01 March 2023
Date01 March 2023
Subject MatterBook reviews
Book reviews
Philosophy Behind Bars: Growth and
Development in Prison
Kirstine Szifris
Bristol University Press; 2021, pp. 264
ISBN: 978-1529205558
Reviewed by: Thomas Mayers, Probation Off‌icer
Philosophy Behind Bars is the culmination of Szifrisethnographically led doctoral
research which ref‌lects on her time teaching a 12-week philosophy course in two
English prisons (HMP Grendon and HMP Full Sutton). Academically speaking, the
book contributes towards a plethora of academic literature from prison education,
prison sociology, philosophy and criminal justice. It also adds to the established lit-
erature of desistance theory and identity.
Philosophy Behind Barsraison detre is to explore what role philosophy might
play in the prison environment, and to do this through a consideration of identity
(p. 23). Asking questions such as Does boredom and stagnation associated with
prison impact negatively on the growth and development of prisoners?And
Does the prison environment impact the persons sense of self?
Philosophy Behind Bars weighs in at 264 pages with 11 chapters, a forward by
Nigel Warburton and reviews by Alison Liebling, Shadd Maruna and Fergus McNeill.
In chapter 1 Szifrisopening argument is about educations role in a prison
setting. Some would argue that prison education is to develop a prisoners employ-
ability, address re-offending and keep prisoners busy. However, Szifris argues that
the philosophy of education could be reconsidered to use education to offer scope
for ref‌lection and not just re-training to enter the labour market.
Book reviews The Journal of Communit
and Criminal Justice
Probation Journal
2023, Vol. 70(1) 7885
© The Author(s) 2023
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/02645505231162578

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