Guest Lecture by Frankie Owens

Uniformed Services, Law & Criminology

On Monday 21 November, five of our Humanities, Criminology and Law and Social Sciences and Care classes attended a very interesting guest lecture from Frankie Owens, award-winning author of The Little Book of Prison: A Beginners Guide.

In what was a sometimes humorous, yet ultimately thought-provoking talk, Frankie told students about his time in prison, serving five months in HMP Winchester after a string of offences he committed as a result of his untreated bipolar disorder. He began writing his book on day two of his incarceration, using it as a means of having something positive to focus on, and ultimately began to turn his life around.

Frankie’s book won the Koestler Platinum Award and has gone on to help offenders through their first time in prison, as well as prison staff and students wanting to work in the sector. It is also being given to people who are at risk of entering the prison system, in the hope that it will help them to improve their situation before ending up behind bars.

One of the statistics Frankie gave was about prison literacy rates: 48% of prisoners can’t read and the prison system isn’t set up to help change this. Because of this, Frankie helped to start the ‘Read + Grow’ programme which provides classes to ex-offenders who have just been released to teach them to read, along with the help of Criminology students from the University of Portsmouth.

The talk gave our students a lot to think about, especially in regards to the link between the prison system and mental health; or rather, the lack of mental health support that prisoners receive once they’re inside. It may have even opened their eyes to a few different career paths that they had never considered before.

And Frankie even gave some recommendations of the best representations of prison life for the students to engage in:

We look forward to hosting more talks like this for our students in the future.