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The role of the psychologist in prisons: An historical overview

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Nanna K L Kaalund.

Today, psychologists play a pervasive role in prisons, particularly in matters concerning long-term prisoners. They assess prisoners’ risk of committing serious further harm; deliver psychological treatment; advise the prison on regime issues, and on how best to work with complex individuals. For prisoners serving a sentence that involves conditional release on parole, the crucial difference between liberty and continued confinement can rest on a psychologist’s judgement. In historical terms, this landscape has taken shape relatively recently, coalescing around the turn of the century, when psychologists’ presence in prisons significantly increased. Based on archival data and emerging findings from interviews with psychologists, this talk will trace psychologists’ presence in prisons over the last 100 years, the changing nature of their work, and the consequences of their increased grip on the conceptualisation of crimes and minds.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group series.

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