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Dr Isla Masson

Profile summary

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Research interests

My research interests relate to gender and incarceration. My PhD and subsequent book explored the longevity of the harm of first short prison sentences on mothers. This involved a series of interviews with women whilst in custody and post release, looking at how incarceration affects their identity as a mother, as well as issues with mental health, housing and the impact on their families. My current research relates to the following two projects – Families on Remand (FOR) and Experiences of Care Leavers in Prison.

In the FOR project (with Dr Natalie Booth at Bath Spa University), funded by the Oakdale Trust, we explored the experiences of 61 loved ones with a relative on remand through semi-structured interviews. In line with existing literature on demographics of prison visitors, the majority interviewed were women (mostly mothers and partners), demonstrating the very ‘gendered nature’ of supporting those in prison and the gendered nature of the harms inflicted by remand.

In the Experiences of Care Leavers in Prison project (with Dr Kate Gooch, University of Bath and Professor Nathan Hughes, University of Sheffield) we explored how being in the care system influences experiences of custody with 94 participants in three prison sites, and I led on the female data collection and this strand of the project.

Teaching interests

I have recently joined the University after teaching in higher education since 2011 at many pre and post 1992 universities and being programme leader at two universities. I am currently working on the production of the new undergraduate module DD315 Researching Current Issues in Criminology, which is planned to launch in October 2023, the presentation of DD311 Crime, Harm and the State and am Qualification Lead for F75 MA in Crime and Justice.

Currently supervising PhD projects on:

  • Therapeutic relationships within prison sexual offender group treatment programmes
  • Ex-prisoner’s with neurodevelopmental disorders perceptions of prison behaviour programmes

Previous supervision:

  • Comparing the Treatment Needs of Male and Female Intimate Partner Violence

Impact and engagement

In 2018 I co-founded the Women, Family, Crime and Justice research network with colleagues at Leicester. We run regular well attended seminars with a range of speakers, including service users. I was lead editor on the first collection for this network, and we are just in the final editing stages of the second edited collection from these events. I was also lead editor of the Handbook of Women’s Experiences of Criminal Justice with Routledge (published October 2022), co-ordinating and quality-controlling the contribution of over 45 interdisciplinary and international chapters. Last year I contributed evidence to the Justice Committee’s call for evidence on Women in Prison and I am also part of a working group exploring a bespoke offer for care experienced women in custody with the prison service. I regularly present work at national and international conferences. I also previously co-led a project with the Restorative Justice Council exploring the role of restorative justice and criminalised women (funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust), volunteered with the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Onley, helped created a social enterprise at HMP Ryehill and worked with the organisation New Bridge, providing through the gate support for prisoners in a variety of London prisons.

Publications

Using techniques of neutralisation to maintain contact: The experiences of loved ones supporting remand prisoners (2022-10-12)
Masson, Isla and Booth, Natalie
The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice ((Early Access))


After Care, After Thought?: The Invisibility of Care Experienced Men and Women in Prison (2022-01)
Gooch, Kate; Masson, Isla; Waddington, E and Owens, A
Prison Service Journal(258)


Loved ones of remand prisoners: The hidden victims of COVID-19 (2021-03)
Booth, Natalie and Masson, Isla
Prison Service Journal(253)


Promises, promises Can the female offender strategy deliver? (2018-12-01)
Booth, Natalie; Masson, Isla and Baldwin, Lucy
Probation Journal, 65(4) (pp. 429-438)


Restorative Justice With Female Offenders: The Neglected Role of Gender in Restorative Conferencing (2018)
Österman, Linnéa and Masson, Isla
Feminist Criminology, 13(1) (pp. 3-27)


Working with female offenders in restorative justice frameworks (2017-12-01)
Masson, Isla and Österman, Linnéa
Probation Journal, 64(4) (pp. 354-371)


Incarcerating Motherhood: The Enduring Harms of First Short Periods of Imprisonment on Mothers (2019-03-05)
Masson, Isla
Publisher : Routledge | Published : Oxford


(Wo)men in the Middle: The Gendered Role of Supporting Prisoners (2022-10-25)
Booth, Natalie; Masson, Isla and Dakri, Ferzana
In: Masson, Isla and Booth, Natalie eds. The Routledge Handbook of Women's Experiences of Criminal Justice. Routledge International Handbooks (pp. 413-424)
ISBN : 9781032064307 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London


Reducing the Enduring Harm of Short Terms of Imprisonment (2021-05-18)
Masson, Isla
In: Masson, Isla; Baldwin, Lucy and Booth, Natalie eds. Critical Reflections on Women, Family, Crime and Justice (pp. 81-106)
ISBN : 978-1447358695 | Publisher : Bristol University Press | Published : Bristol


Harmful social and cultural practices that exist within South Asian communities in the UK and their impact on women (2021-05-18)
Ganeshpanchan, Zinthiya and Masson, Isla
In: Masson, Isla; Baldwin, Lucy and Booth, Natalie eds. Critical Reflections on Women, Family, Crime and Justice (pp. 35-56)
ISBN : 978-1447358695 | Publisher : Bristol University Press | Published : Bristol


The Routledge Handbook of Women's Experiences of Criminal Justice (2022-10-25)
Masson, Isla and Booth, Natalie eds.
ISBN : 9781032064307 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London


Critical Reflections on Women, Family, Crime and Justice (2021-05-18)
Masson, Isla; Baldwin, Lucy and Booth, Natalie eds.
ISBN : 9781447358688 | Publisher : Bristol University Press | Published : Bristol


Written evidence from Dr Natalie Booth and Dr Isla Masson. Commons Select Committee for Women in Prison (2021)
Booth, Natalie and Masson, Isla
Commons Select Committee


Examining prisoners’ families: definitions, developments and difficulties (2018-11)
Masson, Isla and Booth, Natalie
The Howard League for Penal Reform, ECAN Bulletin


Making restorative justice work for women who have offended. A Restorative Justice Council research report (2016)
Österman, Linnéa and Masson, Isla
Restorative Justice Council


Working with women who offend: A guide for restorative justice practitioners (2016)
Österman, Linnéa and Masson, Isla
Restorative Justice Council