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Ben Jarman

Ben Jarman

PhD Student

Long-term imprisonment

Life imprisonment

Penal theory

Moral perception and ethical experiences


Biography:

Ben’s interest in prisons developed through professional work with Quaker Council for European Affairs, Clinks, and Fine Cell Work, where he carried out a range of research and policy roles as well as managing an innovative volunteer-led prison arts programme. This work developed and deepened Ben’s interest in imprisonment, and particularly in how people survive, adapt to and experience long sentences. Ben previously taught in secondary schools.

Ben has been a Quaker since 2005. Quakers have a long-standing interest in prison conditions and have long been involved with criminal justice reform movements. His PhD is funded jointly by the ESRC and Quakers in Britain.

Research Interests

Ben’s PhD builds on and develops pilot research carried out for his MPhil, which formed the basis of a 2020 article in the British Journal of Criminology (see below). One focus is how the perceived moral status of an offence affects life-sentenced prisoners' feelings about the rehabilitative opportunities on offer in prison. Do people who have committed particularly heinous offences feel a heavier burden of shame? If so, how does this affect their feelings about the idea that they ought to change, and their attitudes to rehabilitative services and opportunities (such as work, training, education or offending behaviour programmes) on offer from the prison?

The PhD’s emerging findings point to a more nuanced view of adaptation to imprisonment than has been described in recent studies, emphasising ‘imported’ factors in its account of how people adapt to very long sentences. There appear to be significant differences in attitudes to punishment and risk reduction among men sentenced in youth, middle age, and when older. There are also considerable differences in ethical self-evaluation among those whose offences took place in different circumstances, with some more readily shouldering labels such as ‘risky’, ‘dangerous’ or ‘murderer’ and working within this identity, and others continuing to dispute or question their culpability even as they participate in risk-reducing interventions and work towards objectives on their sentence plan. Although much of this will not surprise practitioners, the PhD will provide a systematic description of these patterns, and situate this within a growing body of work considering the ethical and moral (as well as simply the risk- and recidivism-related) implications of sentencing and punishment.

The PhD supervisor is Prof Ben Crewe.

Ben’s other interests are in historical criminology, the history of imprisonment, and the work of voluntary sector organisations in criminal justice. In 2017/18 he worked with colleagues from Cambridge and the University of Edinburgh, conducting archival research on penal establishments where there have been allegations of non-recent child abuse by staff.

Key Publications

Journal articles

Jarman, Ben. 2020. ‘Only One Way to Swim? The Offence and the Life Course in Accounts of Adaptation to Life Imprisonment’. The British Journal of Criminology, May. https://doi.org/10/ggs23w.

Jarman, Ben, and Caroline Lanskey. 2019. ‘“A Poor Prospect Indeed”: The State’s Disavowal of Child Abuse Victims in Youth Custody, 1960–1990’. Societies 9 (2): 27. https://10/gf2m87.

Jarman, Ben. 2009. “When Were Jews in Medieval England Most in Danger? Exploring Change and Continuity with Year 7.” Teaching History 136: 4–12. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43260755.

 

Policy papers

Jarman, Ben. 2018. “Scandal and Reform, 1960-2016: Can Better Policies Guarantee Child Welfare in Secure Custody?” History & Policy. 2018. http://www.historyandpolicy.org/policy-papers/papers/scandal-and-reform-1960-2016-better-policies-child-welfare-secure-custody.

Journal articles

Jarman, Ben. 2020. ‘Only One Way to Swim? The Offence and the Life Course in Accounts of Adaptation to Life Imprisonment’. The British Journal of Criminology, May. https://doi.org/10/ggs23w.

Jarman, Ben, and Caroline Lanskey. 2019. ‘“A Poor Prospect Indeed”: The State’s Disavowal of Child Abuse Victims in Youth Custody, 1960–1990’. Societies 9 (2): 27. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9020027.

Jarman, Ben. 2009. “When Were Jews in Medieval England Most in Danger? Exploring Change and Continuity with Year 7.” Teaching History 136: 4–12. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43260755.

 

Policy papers

Jarman, Ben. 2018. “Scandal and Reform, 1960-2016: Can Better Policies Guarantee Child Welfare in Secure Custody?” History & Policy. 2018. http://www.historyandpolicy.org/policy-papers/papers/scandal-and-reform-1960-2016-better-policies-child-welfare-secure-custody.

Other Publications

Research reports

Jarman, Ben, Lucy Delap, Louise Jackson, Caroline Lanskey, Hannah Marshall, and Loraine Gelsthorpe. 2018. “Safeguarding Children in the Secure Estate, 1960-2016.” Cambridge. https://doi.org/10/c4kh.

Jarman, Ben. 2016. “Valuing Volunteers in Prison: A Review of Volunteer Involvement in Prisons.” London: Clinks. http://www.clinks.org/sites/default/files/basic/files-downloads/valuing_volunteering_in_prison_-_a_review_of_volunteer_involvement_in_prisons_july_2016_final.pdf.

Casey, Joe, and Ben Jarman. 2011. “The Social Reintegration of Ex-Prisoners in Council of Europe Member States.” Brussels. http://www.qcea.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/rprt-reintegration-full-en-may-2011.pdf.

 

Practitioner resources

Jarman, Ben. 2012. “Evaluating Volunteer Impact: Tools to Help You Assess the Impact Made by Volunteers in the Criminal Justice System.” London: Clinks. http://www.clinks.org/sites/default/files/basic/files-downloads/eval-vol-impact-manual.pdf.

Jarman, Ben. 2012. “The Volunteering Relationship: What Works? Perspectives from Clinks’ Volunteering & Mentoring Programme.” London: Clinks.

Jarman, Ben. 2012. “Volunteering Case Studies: Highlighting Good Practice in the Recruitment, Engagement and Retention of Volunteers.” London: Clinks.

 

Awards and funding

2018–21

Full PhD studentship (funded collaboratively by the ESRC and Quakers in Britain

2017

Proxime accessit, Manuel López-Rey Graduate Prize

2003

Winner, Lightfoot Prize for Ecclesiastical History

Prisons Research at Cambridge University

The Prisons Research Centre (PRC) was founded in 2000, under the Directorship of Professor Alison Liebling. The Centre has received funding from a wide range of sources, including the Prison Service/NOMS, the Nuffield Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust, the ESRC, KPMG, the Home Office and UKDS (now Kalyx).


The Cambridge Institute of Criminology Prisons Research Centre aims to provide a stimulating research environment in which a coherent strategy of high quality research can be pursued, and integration between funded and non-funded, and applied and theoretical projects can be facilitated. We investigate how prisons operate, socially, morally and operationally, how they are experienced, and the relationship between these moral and social qualities, and their effects.


Members of the PRC team carry out, individually and collectively, methodologically rigorous and theoretically relevant field-based studies addressing problems of human and social values, punishment practices, and the organisation and effects of aspects of prison life. We strive to forge links with other prisons researchers, scholars in the broader fields of criminology and sociology, and with practitioners. Our vision is to develop a rigorous and person-centred model of social inquiry.


You can read more about the latest projects in our Annual Reports.