In 2021 I won the prestigious MRS President’s Medal (Market Research Society) for my innovative research about the impact of penal architecture on prisoners and prison staff. The MRS is the UK professional body for research, insight and analytics. This year was the tenth year in which a President’s Medal has been awarded to an organisation or individual deemed to have made an extraordinary contribution to research. On selecting the winner, President of MRS, Jan Gooding said: “This was an incredibly challenging sector to influence. Yet Professor Jewkes translated her findings into progressive actions, changed people’s thinking and informed the architecture of hope.”
The previous year I won the ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize 2020 for Outstanding Societal Impact. My research has resulted in many new prisons in England and Wales, the Republic of Ireland, Australia and New Zealand being designed with rehabilitation goals prioritised at least as much as punishment and security objectives.
My findings that ‘normalised’ and more humane living spaces encourage rehabilitation and potentially less recidivism underpin 12 prison refurbishment projects in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
My work has changed thinking in prison and correction services, ministries of justice and HM Inspectorate of Prisons, prompting the UK Ministry of Justice’s 2019 decision to use toughened glass rather than traditional bars in future prisons in England and Wales, a change that brings improved security within a less punitive environment.
I worked closely with the Irish Prison Service (IPS) on a wide-ranging modernisation programme that’s strongly influenced by a penal philosophy of humanity, hope and rehabilitation. In planning the new 50-bed women’s prison in Limerick (a €71 million project due to open in 2023), I persuaded the IPS senior team to view female offenders as individuals with complex emotional and clinical needs, but also with considerable potentials and futures.
Using Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres as an exemplar, I encouraged the IPS to think not about an architecture of incarceration but, instead, an ‘architecture of hope’.
Crucially, the hope built into the bright, more homely Limerick women’s prison will benefit offenders, prison staff and visitors alike. Ciarán M. Nevin, Irish Prison Service, sums up the research’s immense value: “It is fair to say that Yvonne’s research and contributions resulted not only in a complete re-think of the concepts for the new women’s prison in Limerick, but also brought about a much more innovative and positive approach to prison design and prison purposing.”