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Prison research is not an easy task to undertake, both in terms of the practicalities of research within a closed-off and highly security-conscious institution, and on an emotional level, where notions of control, disem- powerment, and harm are present and highly visible. My mother once said to me that she would much rather I was researching daffodils or butterflies. Yet undertaking prison research, and particularly prison ethnography, gives an insight into the human condition—in this instance from a gendered perspective. They are highly personal (and gendered) spaces, and so some consideration of the researcher’s self does need to be considered, as it will undoubtedly affect the manner in which observations are interpreted and interviews are understood, and even what can or cannot be ‘seen’. Sykes’ (1958) pains of imprisonment, drummed into every student of prisons and penology, are highly personal pains. As such, it is important that the ‘personal’—from every perspective—is brought back into the prison research project, and that we do not shy away from the emotions that accompany the process: as Jewkes (2012) states, this is doing the prison researchers of the future a huge disservice.

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