The Case of Prisoner Alpha: Hearing Prisoners’ Voices, Advocating for Health Reform
Inside Reform: Prison Healthcare Campaigns, Past and Present. Inside Reform was a policy workshop co-convened by Associate Professor Catherine Cox (UCD) and Professor Hilary Marland(Warwick), as part of their Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award Project, ‘Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000’. This event was hosted by the UCD Centre for the History of Medicine in Ireland and held at the National Gallery of Ireland on 2 June 2017.
This presentation focused on the case of Prisoner ‘Alpha’, a 24 year-old, anonymous, male prisoner suffering from epilepsy who was committed to Wandsworth Prison in 1943. Prisoner Alpha’s case was subsequently taken up by the Prison Medical Reform Council. Holly used this case to argue that prisoner’s voices can be powerful tools for communicating messages of reform and to highlight the fact that prison reform organisations also have a role in battling the intersection between stigma and the health conditions that some ex-offenders suffer from.
Dr Holly Dunbar is a Research Fellow on the Wellcome Trust project, ‘Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000’, at University College Dublin. Her research project is on prisoner health and after-care. Her work examines the evolving relationship between philanthropic organisations and the state in medical provision and health promotion among released prisoners. Prior to moving to UCD, she completed her thesis on gender and the Irish nationalist daily newspapers, c.1912 to 1923, at the University of Southampton.