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Prisons Research Centre

Long-term imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Release and re-entry


Ailie completed her BA in Criminal Justice and Criminology at the University of Leeds in 2019, before moving to Cambridge to start the MPhil in Criminological Research.

She began her ESRC-funded PhD project in 2020, and is currently a second year doctoral candidate. Ailie is supervised by Professor Ben Crewe, with Dr Susie Hulley as a secondary supervisor.


Ailie’s ESRC-funded PhD project concerns the impact of release on mandatory-life sentenced prisoners' identities. Through a short-longitudinal study, this study looks to interview 20-25 male mandatory-life sentenced prisoners as they prepare for release from category C and category D prisons in England. In doing so, Ailie will interview her participants twice, once when they have been approved for release (but remain imprisoned) (T1) and again five months after their release, in the community (T2).

This PhD research attempts to explore and understand the perceived and experienced change(s) in identity, anticipations of release, and reflections on their lived experience. Her study looks to explore participants' expectations of release and the lived reality of returning to the outside world after many years of imprisonment, the search for meaning and identity, shame, stigma and the impact of being on a life licence in the community.


Key publications: 

Rennie, A. and Crewe, B. (2022). ‘Tightness’, autonomy and release: The anticipated pains of release and life licencing. The British Journal of Criminology, 63(1), pp. 184–200,

Teaching and Supervisions


Ailie also supervises on the CRIM 3 undergraduate course this year. 

Other Professional Activities

  • Trustee for the New Bridge Foundation
  • Prison coordinator for Sing Inside

For more information on how to get involved with either of these organisations, please contact Ailie (

PhD Student
Not available for consultancy