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Corrupting and saving: Moral contamination, prison education and prison history

Johnston, Helen



This article examines the ways in which prison has been seen as both a ‘school of crime’ and a school of reform; a place for potential further corruption, or through education in prison, a route away from criminality. It explores the methods used, since the early nineteenth century, to protect those confined from the corrupting prison environment. In examining prison education in the 1920s, it argues that, despite significant changes in the wider penal system, changes in education and schooling within prison walls, continued to be slow, protracted in developing and ineffectual in the challenge of reforming prisoners.


Johnston, H. (2021). Corrupting and saving: Moral contamination, prison education and prison history. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 60(S1), 109-118.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 11, 2021
Online Publication Date Oct 11, 2021
Publication Date 2021-10
Deposit Date Jun 14, 2021
Publicly Available Date Oct 12, 2023
Journal Howard Journal of Criminal Justice
Print ISSN 0265-5527
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 60
Issue S1
Pages 109-118
Keywords Prison history; Education; Moral corruption; 'Schools of crime'; Reform
Public URL
Publisher URL Early view:


Article (191 Kb)

Technical Information
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: JOHNSTON, H. (2021), Corrupting and Saving: Moral Contamination, Prison Education and Prison History. The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, 60: 109-118, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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