What I Know Now: Radio as a means of empowerment for women of lived prison experience

Heather Anderson, Charlotte Bedford

Abstract


Incarceration rates are increasing almost everywhere and, while women and girls make up only a small percentage of the overall prison population, there has been a significant increase in their representation – especially over the past 20 years (Carlton and Segrave, 2013). Despite the fact that societies are locking women up at increasingly high rates, the fundamental understandings regarding prison reform are based on a male norm, and do not meet the needs of female offenders (Walmsley, 2016). This article outlines the findings from the first stage of a grassroots action research project conducted with a support group for women of lived prison experience, based in Adelaide, South Australia, to investigate radio production as a means for supporting women in their transition to life outside of prison. The research found that empowerment manifested itself in a number of distinct ways, through both processes and the products of the project. Through the production of radio, women of prison experience recognised their own expertise and took ownership of their stories, while the radio products educated the wider public and validated the participants’ experiences.


Keywords


Action research, arts-led research, community radio, prisoners, prisoner radio, women prisoners

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