Second chances for ex-offenders through education

Longford Lectures

Michael Palin: 'Collateral damage: The effects of prison sentences on offenders' families'

17th November 2015

Michael Palin: Collateral damage: The effects of prison sentences on offenders families

The 14th Longford Lecture 2105 was given by the actor, writer and broadcaster Michael Palin (right). The lecture was chaired as always by the broadcaster, Jon Snow, and was preceded by the presenting of the annual Longford Prize by Michael Gove, Secretary of State. 


A film of the Lecture can be viewed on our Vimeo platform. It is just under 1hr 30mins in length and features the Prize giving and the addresses by Longford Scholars.



There is now a PDF text transcript of the Lecture available to view and download.


Photographs of the Lecture, Prize-giving and reception are on the Frank Longford Charitable Trust facebook pages


Highlights of the Lecture


"The marginalization of the family begins from the very first moment of detention."

 "We are a developed country, and to be poor here is to have your nose pressed against a well-stocked window, with a finger constantly beckoning you to come inside. Possessions are power. The more you have the more you will be listened to, the less you have the more vulnerable you are to anything that will desensitise you from the real world.
So let's not sit here and shake our heads about families who get into trouble and think that the answer is bigger prisons and a faster justice service. What we should be thinking about is how we can change a society that has 20% of its children in absolute poverty."
"My partner had nothing to do with it, my children had nothing to do with it, it's just that their lives have been thrown into a tornado by what I'd done" was one testimony I heard [...] Stigma by association is a theme reiterated by almost all the family members I talked to. They have committed no crime, but they are made to feel as if they are accomplices just because they're related."
"Punishment doesn't end when the sentence has been served. For many, that's when it's just beginning. "
"Government figures confirm that chances of re-offending are 39% higher among those who have not received visits in prison than in those who have. And yet figures also show that almost half of all offenders lose contact with their families when they go to prison."
"They should consider making the family more welcome in prisons, extending family days, providing areas in which the family can be reunited in a non-threatening environment with looser time limits."


They are the voices which need to be heard. The voices from inside prisons, from inside communities, from inside families. They have so much to teach us, and if we are prepared to learn and listen, we can go some way to making our prisons places not of fear and violence but, to echo the fine words of the Justice Secretary , of reform, rehabilitation and redemption.

These are highlights from the Lecture. Click here to read a full transcript (PDF)

The 2016 Longford Lecture

Thank you for your interest in the Michael Gove Longford Lecture

The full text of the Lecture is now available (see above) and the video is now available to view on our Vimeo channel. We aim to make the lecture as accessible as possible to the largest numbers of people. The lecture is free. All donations big and small are most welcome and go towards the Longford Trust's work, mainly with scholarships for prisoners and ex-prisoners hoping to progress into Higher Education. 


The Longford Trust makes no charge for tickets. The Lectures are deliberately open to all regardless of means. However the trustees ancourage all those who can afford to do so make a donation in lieu of their tickets by using our facility on JustGiving. A donation of £10 or more per ticket is suggested.

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