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Alexander McLean, The African Prisons Project: Growing momentum for prison reform in Africa


Themes: Economics and policy, Guest speakers

African prisonsThe Founder and Director General of the African Prison Project (APP), Alexander McLean, believes the future for the organisation is exciting and will pioneer change in penal services across the continent.

He founded APP in 2004, fuelled by his gap year experience of working in a Ugandan hospital. There many of the patients were prisoners who were dying.

Today APP has worked with over 20,000 prisoners in Uganda, Kenya and Sierra Leone, and is under pressure to work in other countries.

A barrister and a magistrate, Alexander feels Cambridge Judge Business School’s General Management Programme, three years into the life of APP, opened his eyes to strategic issues and organisational development allowing him to reflect on developing the charity and increasing its influence.

Interviewed for the School’s website he said APP is focused on three areas: continuing its infrastructure development through partnerships with international organisations; capacity building for prison staff and prisoners centred on adult literacy and life skills; and leadership development for senior and middle management in African prison services.

“This will include the opportunity to come to the UK to study for masters at British universities, especially in law, public health and education. We believe that we can help to equip the next generation of penal reformers in Africa to give them academic skills, the networks and the confidence they need to lead change and make African prisons more humane and rehabilitation focused institutions.

“I think that as an organisation we have a track record of bringing change by working through partnerships both with prison staff, prisoners and external organisations. There is a great deal to be proud of and I think the future for prisons in Africa is bright because I see change taking place all over the continent and momentum is growing.”