But do you feel safe? Navigating gender and safety in prison-based research

lise lafferty event

Prison-based research presents many ethical and logistical challenges, assuming you can gain access at all. Confidentiality can be difficult to achieve given restrictions on space, discussion topics and the required presence of either clinic or correctional staff, and interviews can often be cut short, or rescheduled unexpectedly. To be a successful researcher in the prison setting requires patience, flexibility, and the ability to connect at a human level. One of the recurring messages I have heard from participants is that they want to feel valued as a person, and not dismissed as a “criminal”. The challenges of achieving this within a heavily constrained timeframe and monitored environment are further complicated for female researchers seeking to build rapport with male prisoners. This seminar will use personal case studies to explore how the inmates, prison officers, and the researcher, addressed and resolved questions about gender and safety in conducting research in prison.

Lise Lafferty has a professional background in community development, having worked with people with disabilities, youth and people with complex needs. She holds a Master of Indigenous Studies and a Master of Social Development, and recently completed her PhD at UNSW. Lise’s PhD research explored social capital in the prison setting and aimed to identify social capital dimensions which may predict HCV treatment among incarcerated men. Lise holds a co-appointment at UNSW's Centre for Social Research in Health and Kirby Institute to undertake qualitative research on two NHMRC-funded studies: Identifying factors that improve the health of prisoners who inject drugs, and the SToP-C study regarding HCV treatment as prevention in the prison setting. Lise’s research interests include social justice, prisoner health, Aboriginal health and wellbeing, and grassroots community development.

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