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Presence of Time in the Lives of Prisoners: Implications for Literacy Workers

NCJ Number
Journal of Correctional Education Volume: 65 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2014 Pages: 2-26
Bill Muth; Ginger Walker; Sandra Joy Casad
Date Published
January 2014
25 pages
This project applies Bergson's Duree and Barbara Adam's Timescape theories to the problem of understanding what time means to incarcerated adults.
In criminal justice terms, time is a commodity used to punish transgressors. However, the authors examine time from the perspective of the prisoner's lived experience - not how time is done to prisoners but what prisoners do with time - and describe ways time serves as both a constructive resource and an obstacle to growth and learning. As literacy workers, the authors ask: How do prisoners do time? Are there qualitative differences in the ways time is experienced? Which experiences are conducive to learning? The study's findings suggest that the lived experience of time is fundamental to growth and learning. Prisoners' abilities to access past experiences and imagine future ones are key to building new knowledge, maintaining relationships, and constructing new identities. The authors reflect on the value that prison education policies place on prisoners' experiences - including prisoners' temporal experiences - and consider the implications of these insights for correctional literacy programs. (Published Abstract)


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