Time accolade for prison reformer

November 3rd, 2014

Former Nottingham Law student Alexander McLean is  one of the ‘30 People Under 30 Changing the World’.

Alexander, 28, pictured with prisoners in Africa, made it on to Time Magazine’s prestigious list as the founder of the African Prison Project (APP). He set up the charity after witnessing prison conditions in Uganda.

APP develops high-quality, low-cost health, education and sanitation infrastructure for prisons across Africa, as well as training materials for prisoners and staff.

APP has renovated clinics, built libraries and developed educational programmes in prisons throughout Uganda. It also works with Kenya and Nigeria’s prison services and has plans to expand its work, including to South Sudan.

APP identifies and supports prisoners and prison staff who could lead change. Prisoners can gain diplomas and degrees in law by distance learning, while scholarships enable prison staff to study for masters degrees at British universities. There is also a prison staff exchange programme.

 In 2013, several of APP’s law students had their death sentences overturned. Prison officers from Kenya were seconded to British prisons, while officers from Kenya and Nigeria are studying for masters degrees at universities in London and Oxford.

Alexander said of the Time accolade: “It’s an exciting recognition for the work that I’ve been doing over the last 10 years — trying to bring dignity and hope to people in prison in Africa. It’s also exciting for us as a team of people who are passionate about penal reform and it has been wonderful to work with a great group of staff, volunteers and partners during this time — including The University of Nottingham, as well as many others.

“It is also recognition of our focus as an organisation in the last couple of years, which has been how to identify, develop and equip both prisoners and prison staff who have a desire to improve the lives of those around them within prison and when they are released.”

Alexander has won a string of other awards, including The University of Nottingham Recent Alumnus of the Year in 2007, UK Charity Volunteer of the Year in 2006 and the 2007 Beacon Prize (previous winners include Sir Bob Geldof).

For more on APP, visit: www.africanprisons.org

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