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Research: Prison Reform

The recent attack on London Bridge by a convicted terrorist out of prison early on licence has raised a storm of concerns and everyone is looking for someone to blame. Originally prison was somewhere to lock away people who had broken the law and were a menace to society. Comfort and care were not even considered, so long as society was safe and criminals were punished.

Elizabeth Fry

Then certain people became concerned about prisoners’ human rights and whether this treatment was helping them to change. So now they have television and games and courses to improve their skills. But incidents like that on London Bridge raise questions again about the effectiveness of prison. Some think we should lock up more people for longer while others think we should look into alternatives and lock up less people for a shorter time.

I don’t know enough to join the debate, but it’s quite appropriate that the next topic covered in A Brief History of the Future is alternatives to prison.

In 2157 prisons began to be replaced by personal learning challenges for all but the most dangerous criminals. Prisoners were able to earn their release by walking long distances across challenging and difficult terrain… Others were subjected to challenges which helped them learn about the world, themselves and others… Prisoners were not allowed to undertake challenges in countries where they spoke the same language. 

Some interesting food for thought.

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, and book two Alien Secrets, are out now. Follow her at