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Dr Rod Earle

Rod Earle

Profile summary

Professional biography

I joined the Youth Justice team in July 2008. Before that I worked throughout the late 1980s and the 1990s as a youth justice worker in the London Borough of Lambeth, where I also completed a part-time Masters degree in Criminology at Middlesex University Centre for Criminology. My dissertation considered the prospects for restorative justice in the youth justice system of England and Wales and, in 2000, I joined the Public Policy Research Unit at Goldsmiths College to work on the National Evaluation of introduction of Referrral Orders into the youth justice system.

After that, at the London School of Economics I worked with Professor Tim Newburn on an evaluation of the use of visual recordings of police suspect interviews and then secured a fixed term teaching contract at the University of Surrey Sociology Dept, teaching undergraduate and postgraduate criminology.

In 2006 I started teaching with the Open University as an Associate Lecturer in Region 13 (D315), and also taught criminology courses as a visiting lecturer at the LSE, City University and Westminster.

Immediately before joining the OU I spent two years with Dr Coretta Phillips (LSE) on an ethnographic research project examining men's ethnic and social identities in prison. I have published widely from this research and in 2014 completed my PhD by Publication in the Dept. of Social Policy and Criminology, here at The Open University.  

In 2011 I helped to establish British Convict Criminology, a group modelled on a similar group in the USA that supports and encourages ex-prisoners who are active in criminology. The group has established mentor support for prisoners studying criminology. I have published several articles on the subject and my book, Convict Criminology - Inside and Out, was published in June 2016 by Policy Press. You can take a closer look here: 

Research interests

I maintain a variety of research interests around youth justice. In 2015 I completed, with my OU colleague Wayne Taylor, an evaluation of the Milton Keynes Enterpise Mentors project, funded by The Cabinet Office Vulnerable and Deprived Young People's Fund. In general terms my interests cluster around gender, race and racism, crime and social justice. More specifically these include interests in
prison research, penality and masculinities.

Every year since 2011 I have organised Convict Criminology panels at the British Society of Criminology annual conference. These provide 'user' and 'lived experience' perspectives on aspects of criminal justice, prison life and research and criminology.

Convict Criminology is a group of academics that helps people with first hand experience of criminal justice and penal sanctions to develop critical perspectives on criminology. The group has been provided with some web-space on the US Convict Criminology website. Here you can find out a bit more about the project, and read my article from the 2011 British Society of Criminology conference.

Most recently I have been writing with Alpa Parmar and Coretta Phillips around questions of race, racism, criminology and criminal justice. Together we organised an international symposium on racism and criminology in 2018 and subsequently edited a Special Race Matters Issue of the journal Theoretical Criminology. Also emerging from the symposium was the formation of a Race Matters Network within the British Society of Criminology. I have published and co-published several papers on 'Whiteness' as a critical dynamic within structures of race and racism. 

Teaching interests

Youth Justice, obviously enough, but with particular reference to the idea of the research practitioner, restorative justice, prisons, penality, criminological and social theory. 

I am committed to developing teaching and learning materials that challenge racism and expose its effects in personal and social life.  

Impact and engagement

I have particpated in consultations and workshops about race and ethnicity with prisoners in HMP Grendon. I facilitiated workshops in Belfast with ex-prisoners to help provide prisoner perspectives on the review of the Northern Irealand criminal justice system. I'm a founder member of the British Society of Criminology (BSC) Prison Research Network and also helped to establish the BSC Race Matters Network. 

I've presented papers on my research and convened panel at the annual conference of the American Society of Criminology, the Australia and New Zealand Society of Criminology, European Society of Criminology and the Inter-University Conference in Croatia.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research (ICCCR)CentreFaculty of Social Sciences


Externally funded projects

Building on Positive Convictions
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Apr 201631 Jul 2017ISRF Independent Social Research Foundation

The project focuses on the perspectives of men who have been imprisoned and gone on to become criminologists. It challenges conventional disciplinary boundaries and is both radical and innovative in foregrounding the perspectives of the small number of academics who can combine first hand experiences of imprisonment with theorisation of crime and punishment – convict criminologists. It asks whether these unusual combinations of prison experience and criminology can tell us something new about the role of imprisonment in society, the lives of prisoners (and academics), the experience of imprisonment and the prospects of rehabilitation. Historically, as criminology has grown police officers, probation staff, social workers and prison officers have contributed positively to the discipline, and benefitted from studying it. People from these professional backgrounds have successfully made the transition to careers in criminology, but recently something else has happened. Ex-convicts are making the journey into criminology. How does an ex-convict study crime and punishment and make sense of their personal experience? What research questions does an ex-convict have about prisons, punishment and rehabilitation? How do they teach criminology differently? Do they research prison and prisoners differently? Ethnographic pioneer, Bronislaw Malinowski sums up the epistemological thesis of the proposal: ‘In order to explain a cultural product it is necessary to know it. And to know it, in matters of thought and emotion, is to have experienced it.’ Imprisonment is much studied by criminologists, but rarely experienced directly. This research changes that.

Howard League Youth Participation
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Mar 201631 Mar 2018The Howard League for Penal Reform

A small scale evaluation of a 3-year youth participation project launched by the Howard League for Penal Reform. The evaluation will assess how project objectives are met and work collaboratively with the Howard League to develop its potential. The youth participation project delivers an advice line for young people in custody and seeks to develop other innovatory and incidental services to promote young people’s awareness of their rights in the youth justice system.

Vulnerable, disengaged young people
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Apr 201431 Mar 2015Cabinet Office - SIB Group

Prospects have asked the OU to be the Evaluation partner on this project. To evaluate the Enterprise Mentors scheme as academic partner to Prospect group, working with Milton Keynes Youth Offending Team and Christian Foundation. Conduct interviews and observations, develop and administer research instruments, such as monitoring and time-use diaries etc. Gather and analyse data, write evaluation report(s) and disseminate.


Seeing is Believing: How the Layering of Race is Obscured by “White Epistemologies” in the Criminal Justice Field (2022)
Parmar, Alp; Earle, Rod and Phillips, Coretta
Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 33(2) (pp. 289-306)

‘People are Trapped in History and History is Trapped Inside Them’: Exploring Britain’s Racialized Colonial Legacies in Criminological Research (2022)
Parmar, Alpa; Earle, Rod and Phillips, Coretta
British Journal of Criminology ((Early access))

Book Review: The cage of days: Time and temporal experience in prison by Carceral, K.C. and Flaherty, Michael G. (2022)
Earle, Rod
Criminal Justice Review ((Early Access))

[Book Review] Sensory Penalties: Exploring the Senses in Spaces of Punishment and Social Control. By Kate Herrity, Bethany E. Schmidt and Jason Warr (2021-11)
Earle, Rod
The British Journal of Criminology, 61(6) (pp. 1684-1686)

Exploring narrative, convictions and autoethnography as a convict criminologist (2021)
Earle, Rod
Tijdschrift over Cultuur & Criminaliteit [Journal of Culture and Crime], 2020(3) (pp. 80-96)

The Open University and Prison Education in the UK – the first 50 years (2021)
Earle, Rod; Mehigan, James; Pike, Anne and Weinbren, Daniel
Journal of Prison Education and Reentry, 7(1)

A Voice Within: An Autoethnographic Account of Moving from Closed to Open Prison Conditions by a Life‐Sentenced Prisoner (2021)
Micklethwaite, Daniel and Earle, Rod
The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, 60(4) (pp. 529-545)

No Cell for the Soul: Prison, Philosophy and Bernard Stiegler - A Short Appreciation (2021)
Earle, Rod
Journal of Prison Education and Reentry, 7(2) (pp. 115-122)

Glimpses across 50 years of prison life from members of British Convict Criminology (2020-09)
Earle, Rod and Davies, Bill
Prison Service Journal, Article 3(250) (pp. 13-19)

Dear British criminology: Where has all the race and racism gone? (2020-08-01)
Phillips, Coretta; Earle, Rod; Parmar, Alpa and Smith, Daniel
Theoretical Criminology, 24(3) (pp. 427-446)

Review Essay: They think it's all over...' (2020-08-01)
Earle, Rod
Theoretical Criminology, 24(3) (pp. 543-548)

Race matters in criminology: Introduction to the Special Issue (2020-08-01)
Parmar, Alpa; Earle, Rod and Phillips, Coretta
Theoretical Criminology, 24(3) (pp. 421-426)

[Book Review] Everyday Desistance: The Transition to Adulthood Among Formerly Incarcerated Youth (2019-01)
Earle, Rod
Children & Society, 33(1) (pp. 92-93)

Convict Criminology in England: Developments and Dilemmas (2018-11)
Earle, Rod
British Journal of Criminology, 58(6) (pp. 1499-1516)

Insider and Out: Making Sense of a Prison Experience and a Research Experience (2014-04-01)
Earle, Rod
Qualitative Inquiry, 20(4) (pp. 429-438)

Developing convict criminology beyond North America (2014)
Ross, Jeffrey Ian; Darke, Sacha; Aresti, Andreas; Newbold, Greg and Earle, Rod
International Criminal Justice Review, 24(2) (pp. 121-133)

Telling and showing with criminology (2014)
Earle, Rod
British Society of Criminology Newsletter, 75 (pp. 11-13)

Review: A Political Ecology of Youth and Crime, by Alan France, Dorothy Bottrell and Derrick Armstrong (2013-11)
Earle, Rod
Children and Society, 27(6) (pp. 500-502)

Review. 'Doing Harder Time? The Experiences of An Ageing Male Prison Population in England and Wales' by Natalie Mann (2013-08)
Earle, Rod
Ageing and Society, 33(6) (pp. 1102-1103)

‘Muslim is the new black’ - new ethnicities and new essentialisms in the prison (2013-04)
Earle, Rod and Phillips, Coretta
Race and Justice, 3(2) (pp. 114-129)

On the inside: prison ethnography around the globe (2013-03)
Drake, Deborah H. and Earle, Rod
Criminal Justice Matters, 91(1) (pp. 12-13)

What do ethnographers do in prison? (2013-03)
Earle, Rod
Criminal Justice Matters, 91(1) (pp. 18-19)

Review. Enforcing the Convict Code: Violence and Prison Culture, by R. Trammell (2013-02)
Earle, Rod
The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 52(1) (pp. 115-119)

Book review. Prisoners' Rights: Principles and Practice (2013)
Earle, Rod
Criminology and Criminal Justice, 13(5) (pp. 635-637)

‘Who’s the Daddy?’ – ideas about fathers from a young men’s prison (2012-09)
Earle, Rod
The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 51(4) (pp. 387-399)

Digesting men? Ethnicity, gender and food: perspectives from a 'prison ethnography' (2012-05)
Earle, Rod and Phillips, Coretta
Theoretical Criminology, 16(2) (pp. 141-156)

Ethnicity, multiculture and racism in a Young Offenders' Institition (2011-09)
Earle, Rod
Prison Service Journal, Sept(197) (p 32)

Boys' zone stories: perspectives from a young men's prison (2011-04)
Earle, Rod
Criminology and Criminal Justice, 11(2) (pp. 129-143)

Reading difference differently? Identity, epistemology and prison ethnography (2010-03)
Phillips, Coretta and Earle, Rod
British Journal of Criminology, 50(2) (pp. 360-378)

Review. 'Out There/in Here: Masculinity, Violence and Prisoning'. By Elizabeth Comack (2009-11)
Earle, Rod
British Journal of Criminology, 49(6) (pp. 922-924)

Ethnicity and social relations in a Young Offenders Institution (2008-09)
Phillips, Coretta and Earle, Rod
Prison Service Journal, 179 (pp. 11-15)

Book Review: CCTV and Policing: Public Area Surveillance and Police Practices in Britain by Benjamin Goold (2005-03)
Earle, Rod
Policing and Society, 15(1) (pp. 91-93)

Review:Pan-African Issues in Crime and Justice, (eds) Anita Kalunta-Crumpton and Biko Agonizo (2005)
Earle, Rod
Criminology and Criminal Justice, 5(2) (pp. 203-205)

Book review 'Comparative Criminal Justice' by Frances Pakes (2005)
Earle, Rod
Criminology and Criminal Justice, 5(1) (pp. 103-105)

Book Review, 'Restorative Justice and Accountability' by Declan Roche (2004)
Earle, Rod
Youth Justice, 4(1) (pp. 70-71)

Referral Orders: Some Reflections on Policy Transfer and 'What Works' (2002)
Earle, Rod; Newburn, Tim and Crawford, Adam
Youth Justice, 2(3) (pp. 141-150)

Murray Bookchin - Left, Right and Wrong but Nobody's Bogeyman - review essay (2002)
Earle, Rod
Anarchist Studies, 10(1) (pp. 83-85)

Creative Tensions? Young Offenders, Restorative Justice and the Introduction of Referral Orders (2001-12-01)
Earle, Rod and Newburn, Tim
Youth Justice, 1(3) (pp. 3-13)

Book Review, 'Juvenile Justice In Scotland: Twenty-Five Years of the Welfare Approach' (2001-12)
Earle, Rod
Youth Justice, 1(3) (pp. 56-57)

Convict Criminology - Inside and Out (2016-06-08)
Earle, Rod
New Horizons in Criminology
ISBN : 978-1447323648 | Publisher : Policy Press | Published : UK

Doing Time for Convict Criminology (2021)
Earle, Rod
In: Ross, Jeffrey Ian and Vianello, Francesca eds. Convict Criminology for the Future
ISBN : 9780367860158 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : UK

Opening and Introductions: Education for the many, prison for the few (2019-12-18)
Earle, Rod and Mehigan, James
In: Earle, Rod and Mehigan, James eds. Degrees of Freedom: The Open University in Prison
ISBN : 978-1-4473-5307-2 | Publisher : Policy Press | Published : UK

Open universities, close prisons: critical arguments for the future (2019-12-18)
Earle, Rod and Mehigan, James
In: Earle, Rod and Mehigan, James eds. Degrees of Freedom: The Open University in Prison
ISBN : 978-1-4473-5307-2 | Publisher : Policy Press | Published : UK

Narrative Convictions, Conviction Narratives: The Prospects of Convict Criminology (2019-10-07)
Earle, Rod
In: Fleetwood, Jennifer; Presser, Lois; Sandberg, Sveinung and Ugelvik, Thomas eds. The Emerald Handbook of Narrative Criminology (pp. 63-86)
ISBN : 9781787690066 | Publisher : Emerald Publishing Limited | Published : Bingley, UK

Being inside: Masculine imaginaries, prison interiors (2018-02-22)
Earle, Rod
In: Maycock, Matthew W. and Hunt, Kate eds. New Perspectives on Prison Masculinities. Studies of prison and penology (pp. 43-64)
Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan

Anti-racist criminology? (2017-09-30)
Earle, Rod
In: Amatrudo, Anthony ed. Social Censure and Critical Criminology: After Sumner (pp. 115-138)
ISBN : 978-1-349-95220-5 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan

Race, Ethnicity, Multiculture and Prison Life (2016-02-17)
Earle, Rod
In: Jewkes, Yvonne; Bennett, Jamie and Crewe, Ben eds. Handbook on Prisons (2nd edition) (pp. 568-585)
ISBN : 9780415745659 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Prison ethnography at the threshold of race, reflexivity and difference (2015-06-17)
Earle, Rod and Phillips, Coretta
In: Earle, Rod; Drake, Deborah and Sloan, Jennifer eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Ethnography (pp. 230-251)
ISBN : 9781137403872 | Publisher : Palgrave | Published : Basingstoke

Men, Masculinity and Crime (2015-05)
Earle, Rod and Drake, Deborah H.
In: Brooks, Carolyn and Schissell, Bernard eds. Marginality and Condemnation - A Critical Introduction to Criminology (3rd ed) (pp. 350-370)
ISBN : 9781552667347 | Publisher : Fernwood Publishing

Prison Life, Sociology of: Recent Perspectives from the United Kingdom (2015-02-17)
Drake, Deborah H.; Darke, Sacha and Earle, Rod
In: Wright, J. ed. International Encyclopaedia of Social and Behavioural Sciences (2nd ed) (pp. 924-929)
ISBN : 978-0-08-097086-8 | Publisher : Elsevier | Published : Oxford

Inside white: racism, ethnicity and social relations in English prisons (2013-11-15)
Earle, Rod
In: Phillips, Coretta and Webster, Colin eds. New Direction in Race Ethnicity and Crime (pp. 160-177)
ISBN : 978-0-415-54048-3 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

Law, Leadership and management (2013-07)
Earle, Rod
In: MacKian, Sara and Simons, Joan eds. Leading, Managing, Caring: understanding leadership and management in health and social care (pp. 479-500)
ISBN : 978 0 4156 5851 5 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : England

Restorative justice and the right to move on: toward deinstitutionalising the stigma of a criminal conviction (2012-05-10)
Earle, Rod and Wakefield, Alison
In: Gavrielides, Theo ed. Rights and Restoration within Youth Justice
ISBN : 978-1-897160-62-6 | Publisher : de Sitter | Published : Canada

Cultural diversity, ethnicity and race relations in prison (2011-11)
Phillips, Coretta and Earle, Rod
In: Crewe, Ben and Bennett, Jamie eds. The Prisoner (pp. 117-130)
ISBN : 978-0-415-66865-1 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon,

'Con-viviality' and beyond – identity, ethnicity and social relations in a young men's prison (2010)
Earle, Rod and Phillips, Coretta
In: Wetherell, Margaret ed. Identity in the 21st Century: New Trends in Changing Times (pp. 120-138)
ISBN : 9780230580879 | Publisher : Palgrave | Published : Basingstoke, UK

Living in a box: young men’s prison identities (2009-10)
Earle, Rod
In: Taylor, Wayne; Earle, Rod and Hester, Richard eds. Youth Justice Handbook: Theory, Policy and Practice
ISBN : 978-1843927167 | Publisher : Willan | Published : Cullompton, UK

Referral Orders (2008)
Earle, Rod
In: Goldson, Barry ed. The Youth Justice Dictionary
ISBN : 9781843922940 | Publisher : Willan Publishing | Published : Abingdon

The Referral Order (2005)
Earle, Rod
In: Bateman, Tim and Pitts, John eds. The Russell House Companion to Youth Justice (pp. 101-105)
ISBN : 978-1-903855-49-2 | Publisher : Russell House Publishing | Published : Dorset

Degrees of Freedom: Prison Education at The Open University (2019-12-18)
Earle, Rod and Mehigan, James eds.
ISBN : 978-1-4473-5307-2 | Publisher : Policy Press | Published : UK

The Palgrave Handbook of Prison Ethnography (2015-07-31)
Drake, Deborah H.; Earle, Rod and Sloan, Jennifer eds.
Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology
ISBN : 9781137403872 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Basingstoke

Youth Justice Handbook: Theory, Policy and Practice (2009-10-06)
Taylor, Wayne; Earle, Rod and Hester, Richard eds.
ISBN : 1-843927-16-0 | Publisher : Willan Publishing | Published : Cullompton

Youth Justice Handbook - Theory, Policy and Practice (2009-10-06)
Taylor, Wayne; Earle, Rod and Hester, Richard eds.
ISBN : 978-1-84392-716-7 | Publisher : Willan | Published : Cullompton

Race Matters: A New Dialogue Between Criminology and Sociology (2018)
Earle, Rod; Phillips, Coretta and Parmar, Alpa
In : Race matters: a new dialogue between sociology and criminology (26-27 Aug 2018, London School of Economics)

Prison and university: a tale of two institutions? (2011-12)
Earle, Rod
In : British Society of Criminology (4-6 Jul 2011, Newcastle, UK) (pp. 20-37)

Men in Prison: Con-viviality, Race and Culture (2014-04)
Earle, Rod
PhD thesis The Open University

Courting disaster and indulging the Whiteness of the criminological imagination (2021-11-29)
Earle, Rod
British Society of Criminology, UK.

Book Review: Labelled a Black Villain: and Understanding the Social Deprivation Mindset. By Trevor Hercules. Reviewer: Rod Earle (2020-06-14)
Earle, Rod
CrimeTalk, CrimeTalk.

Degrees of Freedom - prison education at The Open University (2020-01)
Earle, Rod
Discover Society

Little white lies: Whiteness, reflexivity, race and criminology (2019-12-19)
Earle, Rod
British Society of Criminology Newsletter, 84. pp. 5-14

Anti-racist criminology? A recall (2017-01-13)
Earle, Rod

Pushing the boundaries of prison ethnography (2015)
Drake, Deborah; Earle, Rod and Sloan, Jennifer

The Introduction of Referral Orders into the Youth Justice System: Final report (2002-03)
Newburn, Tim; Crawford, Adam; Earle, Rod; Goldie, Shelagh; Hale, Chris; Hallam, Angela; Masters, Guy; Netten, Ann; Saunders, Robin; Sharpe, Karen and Uglow, Steve
Home Office

The introduction of referral orders into the youth justice system: first interim report (2001)
Newburn, Tim; Crawford, Adam; Earle, Rod; Goldie, Shelagh; Hale, Chris; Masters, Guy; Netten, Ann; Saunders, Robin; Sharpe, Karen and Uglow, Steve
Home Office