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The University of Southampton
Institute of Criminal Justice ResearchMembers

Dr Alisa Stevens BSc, MSc, DPhil, PGCHE, FHEA

Lecturer in Criminology, Admissions Tutor

Dr Alisa Stevens's photo

Dr Alisa Stevens is Lecturer in Criminology within Social Sciences: Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology at the University of Southampton.

My research is about prisons, the people who live in them, and what can be done to help them give up crime.

I ‘got into’ criminology through volunteering in prisons, with the Probation Service, for Victim Support, and as an independent custody visitor for a police authority, while employed in corporate public relations. These fascinating, if often troubling, experiences of the criminal justice system prompted me to pursue postgraduate study at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford. I achieved a Distinction and the Roger Hood prize for best performance on the MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice 2004-5, and completed my DPhil in Law in 2009. My first lectureship followed at the University of Kent, where I obtained a teaching qualification, before joining the University of Southampton in January 2013.

 For my DPhil, I observed and interviewed residents (prisoners) and staff at the therapeutic communities (TCs) at HMPs Grendon, Gartree, and Send. These remarkable establishments offer serious (often life-sentenced, violent or sexually violent) offenders the opportunity to engage in group psychotherapy to help them understand themselves and their lives better, while living within a small, supportive penal community. My research was published as the book Offender Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Communities, and its core argument appeared as the journal article ‘I am the person now I was always meant to be’, in Criminology and Criminal Justice. My book has been very positively reviewed in The British Journal of Criminology (54, 5: 972-5); Criminology and Criminal Justice (13, 4: 474-6); Probation Journal (60, 2: 200-2); and the Prison Service Journal (208: 56-8); and my article was the joint winner of the British Society of Criminology Brian Williams prize for best article in 2013.

More recently, I was the academic consultant to the Howard League for Penal Reform’s Commission on Sex in Prison. Over two years, the Commission investigated the extent and nature of, issues raised by, and policy implications of, sexual activity in our prisons, and for which I interviewed former offenders about their sexual experiences in prison. For further details about the Commission and its findings, see:

Published book by Alisa Stevens
Published book by Alisa Stevens

Research interests

A qualitative researcher, my interests revolve around understanding experiences of imprisonment for, and the rehabilitation of, people serving long sentences for violent or sexually violent offences. To date I have conducted research on prison-based therapeutic communities, for personality disordered and serious offenders, and on sexual activity in prison.

PhD supervision
I am currently co-supervising two PhD candidates and am always pleased to hear from prospective students interested in conducting research on imprisonment, probation, violent and sexually violent crime, offender rehabilitation, or desistance from crime.

Primary research group: The Institute of Criminal Justice Research

Admissions Tutor for the Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology.

I am the module designer and convenor for two options for third year undergraduates:

  • CRIM3001 Penology
  • CRIM3007 Violent and Sexual Offenders

and for the postgraduate optional course:

  • CRIM6005 Life Behind Bars: Prisons and Punishment

I also contribute teaching as required to the following postgraduate and undergraduate modules:

  • CRIM1003 Introduction to Criminology
  • CRIM1004 Criminal Justice Studies
  • CRIM2002 Crime and Criminal Justice: Historical Perspectives
  • CRIM6001 Criminal Justice: Policy and Practice

I supervise postgraduate and undergraduate dissertations on all aspects relating to penology and the correctional services, offender rehabilitation, forensic psychopathology, and prison law.

Dr Alisa Stevens
58/4025 Sociology, Social Policy & Applied Social Sciences Social Sciences University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

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