Who we are

The Americas Prison Research Network  (APRN) was established in May 2016 by a group of scholars from various countries, who conduct research in and about prisons and incarceration in the Americas – including North, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean. This meeting emerged from conversations about the need for a more structured and focused space for sharing research on prisons in particular, not just on criminal violence or justice issues more generally.

The Network provides a space for members to share their work, identify other researchers and organizations for project collaborations, and identify resources and best practices in prison reform and prison research in the Americas – including North, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean. Because researchers often work in separate arenas due to the limitations of language, academic discipline, and lack of familiarity, this initiative will foster more regional conversations and collaboration.

What We Do

The APRN also aims to provide an accessible platform for sharing information, resources, and expertise on prison issues for the general public and for policymakers and practitioners. The ability for a practitioner or elected official in one country to log onto the website and see what research and reforms are occurring there, as well as countries with similar experiences or socio-political and criminal justice characteristics, can promote a dialogue and action on prison reform to a degree that is rare when only using US, Canadian, and European examples.

Building on existing connections and conversations at recent conferences, the APRN offers a formalized network and platform that also retains flexibility for different priorities or events. It launched with a half-day meeting at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City in May 2016, on the margins of the Latin American Studies Association conference, and then held a second meeting in April 2017 in the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, in Lima, Peru.

Network members come from more than 15 countries and represent a diversity of prison research interests: prisoner culture, prison violence, staff culture, prison gangs, prison management, abolition, role of religion, role of NGOs, reentry programs, drug treatment programs, gender dynamics, and many more. The Network members work in numerous academic disciplines – including anthropology, sociology, political science, criminology, public policy, economics, and others – and the Network is deliberately inter-disciplinary.