**EVENT CANCELLED** ‘Punishing Old Age’

Event date
1 February 2024
Event time
15:30 - 17:00
Oxford week
HT 3
Wharton Room - All Souls College (and online)

Marion Vannier, University of Manchester, UK

Notes & Changes




The talk has been postponed until the Autumn, we apologies for any inconvenience.



This presentation will begin with an overview of the UKRI funded Hope project that offers to uncover the meaning and value of hope amongst elderly life-sentenced male prisoners and preliminary thoughts on the methodology employed to explore ‘hope’ (ie diaries to be completed by prisoners).

The paper focuses on the pains of aging in prison which have received growing political and scholarly attention as demographic age trends are dramatically increasing in carceral settings across the world. Criminological research documenting how prison is painful of older prisoners generally seek to stimulate emotions to help define what is intolerable (‘too much’ pain) and drive penal change. This paper closely reviews a selection of criminology studies to examine the construction of a particular type of intolerable, namely aging in prison and offers a critical reflection on the value of documenting the suffering of prisoners more generally. To make aging in prison appear intolerable, the pains of older prisoners are characterised as quantitatively significant, distinct, and qualitatively worse. The critique is threefold. The construction of intolerable aging misses out on the societal dimension of the pains of old age that expands beyond the punitive field (1). The representation of the older prisoner as someone in need is rather reductive and stereotypical (2). By using a medicalised approach, the prisoner’s body is placed centre stage (3). The argument against imprisoning the elderly ultimately becomes oddly cold and distanced when the intent is to ignite passions to produce change.


Marion Vannier

After completing her D.Phil at the Centre for Criminology, Marion Vannier joined the University of Manchester where she is now a senior lecturer in criminology and newly appointed UKRI Future Leader fellow. She is also a research associate at the University of Oxford, Centre for CriminologyBorder Criminologies and The Imprisonment Observatory.


Marion's research is situated in the sociology of punishment, criminal law, and human rights. Since her book on life without parole in California, Marion continues to explore topics relating to life imprisonment, and to draw out the connections between legal frames and empirical carceral realities more broadly. Her other research inquiries include ageing and migration studies.

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