Heading to Edinburgh in August? Here’s a round-up of plays, talks and events looking at crime and justice.

  • August 2-28 (except 16): Victim – This one-woman show follows the power struggle between a prison guard and criminal as they come face-to-face with a notorious inmate. Bruised Sky return with Martin Murphy’s darkly comic new play.
  • August 4-27 (except 14, 21): Doglife – Following on from the critically acclaimed Doubting Thomas, Jeremy Weller (winner of six Fringe First awards) and Grassmarket Projects return with part two of a devised trilogy with Thomas McCrudden: a former gangland enforcer who struggles to change from a violent past to a more hopeful future. With a cast of untrained actors, the play focuses on Thomas’s attempts to love and to be loved. We see many of the women in his life on stage: his mother, ex-partners, ex-wife and daughter, along with many of his victims from whom he desperately seeks forgiveness.
  • August 7: The Pain Factory  Legal systems operate on a pain principle: punishments should involve a loss, and that loss should be painful. The problem is, some of us feel some losses more keenly than others: one person might find prison life merely unpleasant and difficult, while another could spend their entire prison term in a constant state of fear and distress. Have these two prisoners been punished equally? What legal and ethical consequences arise from cases like this? Join philosopher Lauren Ware (University of Stirling) to consider the radical proposal that prisons should be turned into personalised pain factories.
  • August 10: Eyewitnesses are Futile – Memory is an untrustworthy companion. It fails often and badly – people even have memory for things that never happened. And it isn’t trivial – just ask Calvin Johnson, who spent sixteen years in jail because he was misidentified by an eyewitness. Stephen Darling (Queen Margaret University) argues we need to be careful when we use witnesses in court, because memory just isn’t fit for this purpose. People remember being licked by cartoon characters, and exaggerate and distort reality just because of how we ask them things. In short, memory is very, very misleading…
  • August 14: Prison Break? is presented by the Just Festival in partnership with Positive Prisons? Positive Future. As the prison population across the UK continues to increase, Professor Fergus McNeill (SCCJR/Glasgow University), Pete White (Positive Prisons? Positive Futures),  Geoffrey Weaver (Polmont Prison) look at whether prisons are the best place to be sending offenders to.
  • August 14 and 17: Fitness to Witness – The majority of innocent people in prison are there because of another innocent person – a well-meaning eyewitness. Many factors can contribute to an eyewitness misidentification, yet jurors (the public!) remain largely unaware of these. This is one case where fact is definitely scarier than fiction… If you’re captivated by Making a Murderer or scintillated by Serial, join Faye Skelton, Lecturer in Psychology at Edinburgh Napier University, to find out why witnesses are often wrong and what psychological research can do to help reduce the number of wrongful convictions.
  • August 21:  Hug More Thugs – Lesley McAra and Susan McVie (SCCJR/University of Edinburgh) return to the Fringe with stories of both offenders and victims, and challenging audiences about which group are more deserving of hugs. There will also be the opportunity to be stopped and searched live on stage!

Listings are provided for information only. Inclusion does not imply endorsement by the SCCJR.

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