Reading in Australian prisons: a history of good intentions and unfulfilled potential

Mary Carroll, Jane Garner

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This paper will examine the motivations for reading and the provision of books in Australian prisons both historically and in the modern context. Using ongoing research into the motivation behind the establishment of early Australian penal libraries, and into the motivations of twenty-first century inmates to use prison libraries, this paper will explore the history of Australian prison libraries and their place in the education and reform of prisoners. Through an examination of the historical record, and data gathered from 29 interviews with current Australian prisoners, the motivation of authorities to promote reading, and the motivation for prisoners to read will be discussed. Critical to this discussion will be an examination of the place of libraries in the reform and educational agendas of authorities and how the emphasis on reading and books reflects attitudes towards crime and punishment across time. The role of the prison library and its place will be used to reflect on the place of reading in the life of the prisoner and community attitudes towards crime and punishment.


ConferenceANZHES/ANME Joint Conference 2017
Abbreviated titleEdcuation History
Internet address


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