Wigan student's prison radio project

Sophie, third from left, with students and staff from HMP Altcourse
Sophie, third from left, with students and staff from HMP Altcourse

An Open University student from Wigan is one of six law students who has been collaborating with prison learners to record a series of radio programmes for broadcast on prison radio.

Sophie Harrison, 26, is a packer for a pharmaceutical supplier but has dreams of becoming a criminal lawyer. She has been studying part-time for four years and has been involved in this pioneering Legal Eagles project by the University’s Open Justice Centre.

The six Law students on the Justice in Action module were granted regular access to HMP Altcourse, a Category B men’s private prison in Merseyside where they met prisoners to explore legal issues affecting them.

Together they identified topics for research – ranging from human rights and release on licence to family, employment and housing law. The students later returned to the jail to record the shows with the inmates, tackling the selected legal topics. The programme, called Castaway, is being broadcast to prisoners on Radio Altcourse.

Sophie said: “I wanted to get some experience of how things work in a prison and what people are like. There are so many stories that prison is completely different to how the prison service is, so it was refreshing to be able to see this first hand and what the prison officers do to help prisoners.

Going into HMP Altcourse was a brilliant experience. It showed me how things work, but it also gave us as students the chance answer legal questions that prisoners might normally struggle to find the answers to.”