Prison and Dehumanisation; Film Screening and Talks on Crime, Prison and Us

Title of talk:

Prison and Dehumanisation – film screening and talks on crime, prison and us


Bullet points of what you would like to talk about:

  • Film screening
  • Discussion on rehabilitation and the prison system
  • Discussion on reform and rehabilitation


A few paragraphs on your subject:

Prison and Dehumanisation – film screening and talks on crime, prison and us. Screening of award-winning prison documentary and talks by the director of Injustice – Dr Lee Salter, Tabitha Wilkins from Prison Rehabilitation, Michael Irwin – author of ‘My Life Began At Forty’, and Alex Dunedin Ragged University. After a whirlwind roadshow of screenings across the UK the controversial documentary film Injustice will be screened at St John’s Church Hall on 13th October 2018.


At the moment there are 80,000 prisoners in England and Wales and more than 7,000 in Scotland, but who are these people and what happens to them?


Around half of prisoners have mental health issues, half have addition problems, nearly two thirds were unemployed, and nearly half were excluded from school as children. Each year in English and Welsh prisons are 40,000 assaults each year, with nearly a death a day in prison and a suicide on average every three days.


Prisons are not holiday camps!


Nor do prisons reduce crime – around half of people released from prison reoffend within the first year. People released from prison are given £46 to survive and face enormous difficulties in finding accommodation and employment on release, with homelessness and unemployment often compounding the problems that led them to prison in the first place.


There are around 10 million people with convictions in the UK at the moment, leading us to ask – if the prison system doesn’t reduce crime or rehabilitate people, what’s the point of it?


Ultimately we are locked into a prison system that the public and media promote as a system of punishment and vengeance against those who have made mistakes. Finding a way out of this mess is key to creating a safer society for all of its members. Yet successive governments seem beholden to the press narrative about crime and punishment, which in the past 300 years has never succeeded in achieving its stated aims.

Governmental inaction means that crime rates continue to be high, people who’ve committed crimes are as likely as ever to be excluded from society and driven into further criminal activity and in the mean time the public is being failed. We must address the question of crime and punishment as a society.

Outside England and Wales there have been successful initiatives address this perennial problem, whether by creating better societies in the first place, or creating a system that prioritises reform over harm. This even will provide and open space to listen and speak on the issues that affect us all.

The award-winning film Injustice investigates the prison and criminal justice system, interviewing ex- prisoners, campaigners and academics to shine a light on this dark zone of our society, asking who the prisoners are, how the criminal justice system treats them, what happens in prison and what life is like on release. The Prison Rehab Company and Dr Wood join the panel discussion to report on their work with prisoners and give insight to the reality of the prison system.

A few paragraphs about you:

Lee Salter is the director of Injustice

Lee Salter is a film maker, writer and researcher. After his 15-year academic career came crashing to a half with his 2016 conviction, he immersed himself in the worlds of the fellow convicts he found himself among. Taking notes of each story he encountered he began writing about the lifeworld of people with convictions, and began making contacts with a range of ex prisoners. Having made 3 feature documentaries in the style of Third Cinema he interviewed the “ex-prisoner” Gethin Jones while making a film to help launch his consultancy Unlocking Potential, and followed the leads he generated, which eventually led to the production of the documentary Injustice.

Michael Irwin author of My Life Began At Forty

On the 29th August 2007 prison officers in England and Wales went on strike. I only knew this when it was shown on BBC news as there were no staff on the wing. At the time I was on remand on HMP Lewes and decided there and then that the world had gone mad and that the general public should know what goes on in the institution of prison. I started to write with pen and paper and record the events that were unfolding on a daily basis. This has now been turned into a book called ‘My Life Began At Forty’.

I was arrested at Gatwick Airport on the 19th June 2007 with 1.1K of Cocaine hidden in the lining of a bag I’d collected in the Caribbean. At the time I was addicted to cocaine and the alcohol intake was just as bad. After a few months of detox I got my half sensible head back on and started to write. I ended up receiving a twelve year sentence for drug trafficking, six in prison and six on licence and decided to put my ‘Time’ to good use.

I served my sentence in six different prisons starting at HMP Lewes then moving on to HMP’s Brixton, Rye Hill and Highdown in England and then transferred back home to Northern Ireland and HMPs Maghaberry and finally Magilligan. There are many prison books out there and one of the unique features of my story is that I served in two different jurisdictions and was able to compare and contrast as I progressed through the system.I now have a BA (Hons) in Criminology and Psychological Studies from the Open University and an MSSc in Criminology at Queens University Belfast. Next stop PhD. My message is simple ‘never, ever give up.’

Alex Dunedin

I am passionate about social justice issues which arise around the criminal justice system as it stands.  Not is all well in paradise with the rise of disaster capitalism and the privatisation of prison services we are seeing exploitation of the poorest and most vulnerable in society – as Professor Lesley McAra says “The criminal justice system in effect, curates its own client group”.  What right to reply do people have who are poorly represented by the law ?  Why are the most wealthy not being held to account like the rest of society ?  Why is retribution the message which seems to overwhelmingly infuse the behaviour and actions of the criminal justice system ?  Why are prejudiced and incorrect stereotypes perpetuated by the institutions of our country ?  Is it ever acceptable to dehumanise people ?  These are a small part of the questions which fleet through my mind.  I personally am invested in these issues as they have effected me and the communities which I have lived in.

What free internet knowledge resources would you recommend?

YouTube player

YouTube player

YouTube player

What are your weblinks?

Website –
Twitter – @injusticedoc
Facebook – /injusticedocumentary

This event took place on the 13th October 2018 at St John’s Church Community Hall (Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 4BJ)