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. Since March 2020 she has been researching the impact of COVID-19 prison lockdowns on children who have a parent in prison.
She has provided training to judiciary on the sentencing of mothers and primary carers in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. In 2018 she released the film series 'Safeguarding Children when Sentencing Mothers' for sentencers, advocates, probation staff and women facing sentence in England and Wales. She has more recently been involved in a similar series for criminal justice professionals in Scotland, which will be released in April 2021.
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 July 2019 Shona was awarded the Outstanding Early Career Impact Prize by the ESRC and a Vice Chancellor's Award from the University of Oxford, for Public Engagement with Research.
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.