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Prisons Research Centre



Ellie is in the final few months of completing her PhD and is supervised by Professor Alison Liebling and Professor Nicola Padfield. As a qualified lawyer, Ellie is interested in how the law has shaped the experience of segregation and is adopting a socio-legal approach to her research.  

Ellie undertook her fieldwork in HMP Whitemoor, a high security prison. She spent four months conducting interviews with prisoners and staff, as well as observing prison practices. During her fieldwork she explored: (i) the processes involved in segregating individuals; (ii) how segregation was typically used; and (iii) the experience of segregation.  

Ellie's PhD focuses on three main areas of inquiry. First, it explores how segregation is and should be used, and how the law sets the parameters of such usage (in theory at least). Second, despite there being a language of law, she identifies how the functioning of law - in this particular unit - is impacted by the culture of those responsible for its implementation. Third, she examines how legal frameworks are not only capable of being overridden by the culture of people but also the culture of context; undermined and subverted by practical, psychological and procedural barriers. 

Last year, Ellie published her systematic review of the effects of prison segregation:

Ellie was also awarded the Cambridge Society for Applied Research prize. Alongside her PhD, Ellie directed the Cambridge Pro Bono Project and taught for the Learning Together programme in HMP Grendon, Whitemoor and Warren Hill. 



University of Cambridge (2017 to Present): PhD in Criminology

University of Oxford (2015 to 2016): MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice

University of Law (2011 to 2013): GDL and LPC (LLB)

King’s College London (2007 to 2010): BSc Business Management

During her time at Oxford, Ellie was awarded the Oxford Routledge Prize for best dissertation, for her research investigating radicalisation in prison.

Ph.D Student
 Ellie  Brown
Not available for consultancy