• Life Imprisonment by Alan Baker - book cover

Life Imprisonment

An Unofficial Guide

by Alan Baker, Foreword by Tim Newell


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**Winner of a Koestler Trust Silver Award** and the only book of its kind by a serving lifer. Contains a Foreword by Tim Newell, former Prison Governor life-sentence expert. A snapshot of the most severe sentence available in the UK which treats key topics in 40 easy to read sections.

Alan Baker’s personal selection and treatment of topics of concern to life-sentenced prisoners looks at subjects across the life-sentence regime. Ranging from the realisation which ‘kicks in’ after being sentenced in the dock—shock, numbness, hopelessness—to the intrinsic nature of long-term imprisonment, it is an explanatory handbook and survivor’s guide. Life Imprisonment looks at aspects of long-term imprisonment from inside the head of a lifer: daily preoccupations, the uncertainty about when he or she will be released, the long years ahead, time for reflection, work towards release, setbacks and coping mechanisms and staying out of trouble. It tells about how a life sentence leads to risk assessments, courses, reports, psychological tests and possibly a period in a therapeutic community and/or a resettlement prison. To this first-hand knowledge, Alan Baker adds his thoughts on the state of the prisons, having experienced first-hand the impact that the justice system has on have on someone serving a sentence with no fixed end date. The result is a book packed with useful information as well as an insider’s perspective on the major concerns of life-sentenced prisoners, whether about their sentence, future, their victims or the (often greatly magnified) minutiae of prison life.


‘Offers some useful advice encouraging prisoner readers to behave “positively” in order to obtain what they need to progress or gain privileges, including encouraging them to take charge of their sentence. It would seem appropriate for this book to be available in libraries in “local” prisons or in court holding cells, as well as in visitors’ centres for families and friends to gain an insight into the often closed world of prisons’– Prison Service Journal.

‘[It is] welcome to see a book that can provide advice and support for this group of prisoners that is written by a peer … a mixture of practical information and personal “tips” from one who has “walked the walk” on how best to stay out of trouble, progress, and work towards release’– Probation Journal.

‘A hard-hitting set of survival notes from someone writing with great experience of having walked the walk. It is grounded in reality… Alan Baker writes with sound practical advice and insight which is not for the feint-hearted. He takes prison seriously, recognising it as the place you don’t want to be’– Tim Newell (From the Foreword).


Alan Baker has spent over 20 years in prison (despite a tariff of just nine years) having received a discretionary life-sentence for the attempted murder of another prisoner. He has spent time in some 30 prisons and youth custody centres (as they were known when he was a younger man) and experienced maximum security segregation several times. He received a Koestler Trust Silver Award for the manuscript of Life Imprisonment: An Unofficial Guide.

Additional information

Weight167 g
Dimensions204 × 134 × 9 mm

Foreword author

Tim Newell


Waterside Press




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Place of origin

United Kingdom

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