A design approach to transforming prison
Over the past decade, Matter director Roland Karthaus and justice policy expert Rachel O’Brien have undertaken applied research aimed at improving conditions and outcomes for those living, working and visiting in prisons in the UK. Top-down governmental policies to transform the prison service have been largely ineffectual and in some cases counter-productive. The service is characterized by hierarchical organization and the research has applied design thinking at multiple levels to challenge and precipitate change within both the commissioning and operational areas:
System Design (top-down) – working at the national policy level to advance the rehabilitative purpose of prison.
Place-based Design (middle-out) – working with individual prison establishments in different places and contexts to explore what this means on the ground.
Everyday Design (bottom-up) – working with individuals in the system to reveal their capacity to enable and support change.
The work is being presented at the European Society of Criminologists conference in 2019 and will form part of the UEL Research Excellence Framework for 2021.