Beyond the Wire: Former Prisoners and Conflict by Peter Shirlow

By Peter Shirlow

This booklet presents the 1st certain exam of the function performed through former loyalist and republican prisoners in grass roots clash transformation paintings within the Northern eire peace technique. It demanding situations the assumed passivity of former prisoners and ex-combatants. as an alternative, it means that such members and the teams which they shaped were key brokers of clash transformation. they've got supplied management in demanding cultures of violence, constructed functional equipment of resolving inter-communal clash and located methods for groups to discover their stricken previous. In analysing this, the authors problem the sterile demonisation of former prisoners and the techniques that continue their exclusion from basic civic and social existence. The publication is a positive reminder of the necessity for complete participation of either former opponents and sufferers in post-conflict transformation. It additionally lays out a brand new time table for reconciliation which implies that clash transformation can and will commence ‘from the extremes’. The ebook may be of curiosity to scholars of criminology, peace and clash reports, legislation and politics, geography and sociology in addition to people with a specific curiosity within the Northern eire clash.

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Extra resources for Beyond the Wire: Former Prisoners and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland

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Imprisonment, together with law, warfare and policing, is central to the state’s broader process of social ordering. It embeds hegemonic definitions of right and wrong and helps to reproduce existing social order and dominant forms of class and race relations (Rodriguez, 2006). Since this entire process is heavily politicised, for some critical criminologists, almost all of those imprisoned as a result of the criminal justice process may be regarded in some sense as political prisoners. Notwithstanding the political and ideological forces at work in the process of crime control, such a sweeping assessment is open to a number of obvious critiques.

The courts in such instances may also serve as further sites of practical and symbolic resistance. Some political prisoners may seek to use the opportunity to attempt to make a speech from the dock, to have ‘written into the record’ their motives and views on the system which tries them (Benson, 1981). For others, such as Republican prisoners in Northern Ireland during the 1970s who often used to refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the courts as tangible symbol of British rule in ‘Ireland’, their protest was primarily symbolic, a communicative action aimed primarily at the Republican constituency (McEvoy, 2001).

THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL CONTEXT FOR EARLY RELEASE The release of combatants from prison after a conflict has a long tradition. Processes of prisoner release or pardon are entirely in keeping with the common-law legal tradition which has permitted the sovereign exercise of power to mitigate punishment for individual offenders or classes of offenders since at least the seventh century (Bresler, 1965; Moore, 1989). Between 1310 and 1800 the British Parliament enacted 110 Acts of general pardon or amnesty for various classes of offenders (Kirchheimer, 1961).

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