Shona is the 2019 winner of the Outstanding Early Career Impact Prize awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council in association with Sage Global.
She is currently a British Academy Post Doctoral Fellow at the Centre for Criminology where she is researching the impact of parental supervision in the community following both custodial and non-custodial sentences, from a child rights' perspective.
After graduating from St.Anne's College, Oxford in Jurisprudence Shona was called to the Bar of England and Wales and practised criminal and family law from 1 King's Bench Walk, London. Her professional experience led to her research interest in the points of intersection between family and criminal law.
She obtained an MSc (Distinction) from the University of Surrey in Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Research in 2012. Her Masters research explored the impact of motherhood as mitigation in criminal sentencing using interviews with members of the judiciary and an analysis of sentencing transcripts.
Shona then moved to the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford and funded by the ESRC she undertook DPhil research which analysed the place of children in maternal sentencing decisions in England and Wales. She explored the status of children of prisoners in English law and engaged directly with children and their carers to explore the nature of the impact of maternal imprisonment. She also interviewed members of the Crown Court judiciary to examine sentencing practice. She completed the DPhil in early 2017.
In 2017/ 2018 Shona was employed by the Faculty of Law as the Research Officer on an ESRC Impact Acceleration Award funded project in association with the Prison Reform Trust and Dr Rachel Condry. ' Addressing the Impact of Maternal Imprisonment: Developing Collaborative Training' . It built on the findings of her doctoral work and provide information, in the form of films, to sentencers and legal professionals to aid consistency and understanding in maternal sentencing decisions. The films were launched in January 2018 and are available for sentencers, advocates and probation staff. An additional film was made for women themselves facing sentence and it can be viewed here.
Shona shared her research findings with the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in March 2018, in particular with regard to the state duty to protect children from discrimination which they may face as a consequence of the status or activities of their parents (UNCRC, Article 2). As a consequence the JCHR held an enquiry into the right to family life of children whose mother is imprisoned.
Her research has been referenced frequently in parliamentary debates and has informed Government policy including the June 2019 Farmer Review on the Importance of strengthening female offenders' family and other relationships to prevent reoffending and reduce intergenerational crime.
After a period in 2018 working on the evaluation of a family law advice service offered to women in prison by the Prisoners' Advice Service with a team from Lancaster University, Shona returned to Oxford to take up her British Academy Fellowship.
In April 2018 Shona was named the Early Career Impact Champion, by the O2RB consortium made up of the Social Sciences departments of Reading Uiveristy, the Open Universtity, Oxford Brookes University and the University of Oxford.
Her report on 'Motherhood as Mitigation' won the John Sunley Prize 2013 and was published by The Howard League for Penal Reform in April 2014.
- This article draws upon research with children whose mothers were imprisoned in England and Wales, to investigate the impacts of maternal imprisonment on dependent children. The research directly engaged with children, in accordance with Article 12 of the UNCRC 1989, and is set within an examination of the differentiated treatment in the family and criminal courts of England and Wales of children facing state initiated separation from a parent. The article explores children’s ‘confounding grief’ and contends that this grief originates from social processes, experienced as a consequence of maternal imprisonment. ‘Secondary prisonization’ is characterized by changes in home and caregiver and the regulation of the mother and child relationship. ‘Secondary stigmatization’ occurs when children are stigmatized by virtue of their relationship with their mother. These harms to children call into question the state’s fulfilment of its duty to protect children under Article 2 of the UNCRC 1989.This thesis has been lodged with the Bodleian LibraryWhen children face separation from their parents as a consequence of state action in the family courts, their best interests are the paramount consideration of the court and they have legal representation. Children who face separation from their mother as a consequence of sentencing proceedings in the criminal courts are neither represented nor acknowledged. The thesis analyses this differentiated treatment and explores its consequences for children, society and the state. Explanations for the differentiated treatment are tested with reference to existing literature and original empirical research. The impact on children of imprisoned mothers is investigated to determine whether or not they suffer harm. The parameters of the state duty of care towards children are explored, to see if children of defendant mothers fall outside of it, and the way sentencing judges construct and interpret their duty towards mothers and their children within the sentencing process is examined. This thesis establishes that without legal or moral justification, children of maternal defendants are treated without the concern given to children who face separation from their parents in the family courts. Children of defendant mothers suffer as a consequence of the ‘secondary prisonisation’, ‘secondary stigmatisation’ and ‘confounding grief’ which they experience, and the state has failed to uphold their rights under Articles 3, 12 and 20, and is in breach of its duty under Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989. The guidance and mechanisms for considering their welfare exist but are not engaged with by the sentencing courts, local authorities, legislators or policy makers. This has negative consequences for children, their caregivers and wider society. The thesis concludes with consideration of the implications of these findings for the state and suggests changes to ensure equitable treatment of children of defendant mothers in England and Wales.Presentation to the Scottish Sentencing Council 6th March , based on 'Who Cares? Analysing the place of children in maternal sentencing decisions in England and Wales', Minson, S. (2017), DPhil Thesis, University of Oxford
- Women's Imprisonment
- Children of Prisoners
- Criminal Sentencing Policy
- Rights of the Child
- Judicial Practice
Options taughtCriminology and Criminal Justice, Crime and the Family
News articles for Shona Minson26 May 2020
Shona Minson publishes blog post on contact between children and imprisoned parents during the pandemic27 Mar 2020
Article in The Independent highlights call for release of pregnant women from prison supported by Shona Minson.12 Sep 2019
Dr Shona Minson on Channel 5 News11 Jul 2019
Shona Minson wins prestigious ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize10 Jul 2019
Shona Minson wins Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Award: safeguarding children when sentencing mothers
Blog posts by Shona Minson28 Sep 2017
We’re discussing Lavinia Woodward’s sentence for the wrong reasons
By Shona MinsonCentre for Criminology25 Nov 2015
Reducing the Unnecessary Imprisonment of Mothers, Improving the Chances for their Children
By Shona MinsonCentre for Criminology26 Jun 2014
How a Criminologist Can Justify Watching ‘Orange is the New Black’ for Work Purposes
By Shona MinsonCentre for Criminology02 Jun 2014
Moving Targets: Reputational Risk, Rights and Accountability in Punishment, Part I
By Shona MinsonCentre for Criminology