Speaker: Dr Cara Jardine, University of Strathclyde

Discussants: Professor Rachel Condry (University of Oxford) and Professor Laura Piacentini (University of Strathclyde).

The Criminal and Social Justice Cluster at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, University of Strathclyde and SCCJR are delighted to launch Dr Cara Jardine’s powerful new book Families, Imprisonment and Legitimacy: The Cost of Custodial Penalties.


This study provides a compelling examination of what it means to be a family within the restrictive, disruptive and often distressing context of imprisonment. Looking beyond the nuclear family reveals not only who is affected when a prison sentence is given, but also the individual, and often highly creative, strategies adopted by families to continue and maintain their relationships.

However, these strategies are all too often forged in a context of poverty and social marginalisation, and the efforts to support a person in custody are almost always led by women. Consequently, supporting a person in prison compounds gendered patterns of social marginalisation, and brings families into regular contact with the criminal justice system in ways in which can be both distressing and damaging to penal legitimacy.

Thus, rather than asking how families might support resettlement, this book contends that we should instead be questioning how the prison system can minimise the damage caused by imprisonment not only to family relationships, but also to the perceived legitimacy of the criminal justice system amongst some of Scotland’s most deprived and marginalised communities.

Cara will provide a short introduction and reading from the book. Then we are delighted to be joined by Professor Rachel Condry (University of Oxford) and Professor Laura Piacentini (University of Strathclyde), who will offer some reflections about the wider implications of this book. This will be followed by a question and answers session.