Philosophy in prisons, a brief history
Much has been written about doing philosophy in prisons. In the UK most notably through the Guardian education series: Philosophy in Prisons by Alan Smith, who called it a day in 2013.
Jules Evans has also done philosophy in Low Moss prison. It was an eight-session course that introduced people to the ideas and life-philosophies of various ancient philosophers, including Socrates, the Stoics, Plato, Rumi, the Buddha, Jesus and Lao Tzu. He ran it in partnership with New College Lanarkshire, which runs the learning courses in west Scottish prisons, you can read about it on his Philosophy for Life blog.
Kirstine Szifris, whose PhD is on philosophy in prisons, wrote an article on her work: Philosophy in Prisons: Opening Minds and Broadening Perspectives through philosophical dialogue. The Philosophy Foundation worked with Kirstine up in Manchester at Thorn Cross prison delivering weekly philosophy classes for a term in 2017 (funded by the Royal Institute of Philosophy).
In 2016, King's College London’s Department of Philosophy piloted an 8-week philosophy course for prisoners at HMP Belmarsh. With the support of Professors Bill Brewer and MM McCabe, Mike Coxhead (PhD candidate and Visiting Research Fellow in the Department), Andy West (senior specialist at The Philosophy Foundation), and Andrea Fassolas (honorary therapist at the Guild of Psychotherapists) developed and delivered a course of discussion-based philosophy classes. Content included personal identity, freedom, time, scepticism, the ethics of belief, mental health, and topics in moral philosophy. Classes were delivered based around The Philosophy Foundation’s method of philosophical enquiry.
In 2017, two further courses were delivered: a re-run of the pilot course, and a new course designed specifically for ESOL learners. Funding has been provided by both the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the Evan Cornish Foundation.
We were funded by the Royal Institute of Philosophy in 2018 to run a course at HMP Brixton, and have continued to work at HMP Belmarsh in 2018-19.
You can read more about this work on King's College London website.