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Reconstructing Prison Lives: Criminal Lives in the Digital Age

Johnson, Helen, Godfrey, Barry, Cox, David and TURNER, Jo (2013) Reconstructing Prison Lives: Criminal Lives in the Digital Age. Prison Service Journal (210). pp. 4-9. ISSN 0300-3558

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Abstract or description

In the past few years the expansion of digitisation of historical records has allowed increasing access to family history records, census records, military and employment records and newspapers databases through the internet. In many ways this has allowed much greater access to this historical material, hitherto buried in archives, spread across the country where perhaps only the specialist researcher or the most committed family historian might dare to tread. As historians of crime and punishment, our access to criminal and prison records available through the internet has also increased significantly, particularly through the use of sites such as and just recently (March 2013) the website announced the release of over half a million criminal records in addition to the existing material already on their website database through collaborative projects with the National Archives. As well as the national court and punishment records available through such subscription websites like the Criminal Registers1791-1892, a number of large projects or local archives have placed databases or digital criminal records or photographs online — for example, The Proceedings of the Old Bailey1674 to 1913 ( registers of prisoners or criminals, for example Aylesbury Prison( Our recent ESRC funded project on the costs of imprisonment has used some of these records and many more to uncover the offending and prison lives of 650 convicts who were released from prison during the mid to late nineteenth century. This article will use a case study of one female convict we encountered to illuminate the rich historical material that is available on the prison lives of these offenders and will discuss some of the pitfalls in using such materials and the surprising, perhaps unintentional aspects of the records which also bring the prison to life.

Item Type: Article
Faculty: School of Law, Policing and Forensics > Criminal Justice and Forensic Science
Depositing User: Jo TURNER
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2019 13:54
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:54

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