Mon 03 Mar, 2024

The Secret Life of Prisons podcast goes weekly!

The Secret Life of Prisons, the smash-hit podcast from the Prison Radio Association charity, is relaunching as a weekly show.

Hosted by Phil Maguire OBE (Chief Executive of the Prison Radio Association) and Paula Harriott (Head of Prisoner Engagement at the Prison Reform Trust), The Secret Life of Prisons was devised as a way of allowing listeners to understand the reality of life in the UK’s prison systems.

Each episode features guests who have served time at His Majesty’s pleasure, who work in prisons or who study our criminal justice system.

Paula served a prison sentence in the 2000s, and since her release she’s dedicated her career to helping the people who know the prison system best – those who have received custodial sentences – to contribute to the public discourse around how we deal with crime and justice.

Phil worked as a residential social worker before following his passion for radio. He re-trained as a broadcast journalist and landed a job with the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2. He left the BBC in 2006 to launch the Prison Radio Association. He’s co-founder of Prison Radio International and has a wealth of experience working in prisons around the world.

The podcast challenges listeners to learn about the world of prisons and to care about what happens inside them. It asks difficult questions about our personal response to crime and those who commit crimes. It features voices telling the unvarnished truth about life behind bars. And it places the perspectives of victims of crime and wider society alongside informed discussion about how we can ensure there are fewer crimes … and victims … in the future.

The opening episode of the new series is called Urgent Notification and talks about what happens when a prison is found to be failing so badly that it has to be brought to the urgent attention of the Secretary of State for Justice. Five so-called Urgent Notifications have been issued by His Majesty’s Inspector of Prisons in the past twelve months, and we speak to two guests who have spent time in prisons that fit into that category.

The details are harrowing, but the conversation is vivid, moving and energising.

Future editions will focus on the role of juries in the criminal justice process, the use of ‘alcohol tags’ as a way of diverting people from crime, the inappropriate use of solitary confinement in prisons and a troubling trend in the courts around the number of defendants pleading ‘not guilty’ in their first appearance in front of a judge.

The Secret Life of Prisons drops every Monday. It’s available wherever you get your podcasts.