Reviews for Joseph Akeroyd. Rediscovering a Prison Reformer

Raphaella, Third Chapter

It just occurred to me that I haven’t told you that I finished your book a few weeks ago! Every time you came into third I forgot to mention it.  

Just wanted to tell you that I absolutely loved reading it, it was an honour and I thank you for sharing it with me. You have such amazing insight and understanding regarding your students, their needs and experiences, and I found that to be the most inspiring- if you ever (and I hope you do) write a piece about your own in-depth experiences, I would LOVE to read it. I also found it very insightful how you balanced your own career insights with Akeroyd’s trajectory. It served as a reminder that it is imperative to understand history in order to achieve progress and reform.  

The sector is very lucky to have someone like you within it. It was a fantastic read, and I hope you’re really proud of yourself. 

Thank you, 

Raphaella (from third chapter) :)  

Dr Marietta Martinovic, Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Justice

Ron has eloquently presented Joseph Akeroyd’s inspiring biography as a prison reformer. In a contemporary and creative way he integrated it with his own professional career as an educator at Pentridge prison in Victoria during the 1970s and 1980s. Ron has clearly piled through a heap of Akeroyd’s diaries, letters, official reports, newspaper reports and other documents in order to tell this captivating story. The book is full of interesting anecdotes about infamous prisoners, difficulties of prison life and the challenges staff delivering education experience in such complex places.

In this book, Akeroyd, the longest serving Inspector General in Victoria’s history (from 1924 through to 1947), is presented as a true positivist who viewed prison primarily as a place of education as opposed to punishment. Unsurprisingly, many of his progressive views were challenged at the time by prison staff and politicians. Nevertheless, the initiatives he put into place have left legacies which are still in practice in Victorian prisons. He formalised treatment-focused offender management practices, introduced educated and qualified staff to deliver education, and most notably, he raised the profile of education an integral part of prisoner reform. His legacy set Victoria apart from every other Australian jurisdiction, and indeed the world for years beyond his time. The strength of Ron’s book is the stark reminder that we first need to investigate and learn from the past in order to understand the present and suggest pertinent reforms for the future, as well as, remember that the central purpose and mission for staff delivering education in prisons is prisoner reform.

By Dr Marietta Martinovic
Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Justice
RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria


Author Ron Wilson launches a new press campaign for

‘Joseph Akeroyd: rediscovering a prison reformer’

Book provides a fresh insight into the nature of prison system in Victoria, Australia from 1924 to 1947

MELBOURNE, Australia – Ron Wilson, in his first literary offering titled “Joseph Akeroyd: rediscovering a prison reformer” (published by Xlibris AU), combines the historical and contemporary experiences of prison reformers and prison education practitioners to provide unique insights into the complex yet compelling experiences in implementing reforms within prisons.

This book takes a closer look into the legacy of Joseph Akeroyd, the longest serving inspector general in Victoria’s penal system between 1924 and 1947. After many years of brutal punitive prison regime, Akeroyd brought his education inspired therapeutic approach into prison and prisoner management. These radical and innovative reforms occurred between and beyond two world wars and a major international economic depression. Whilst many of his reforms were not heralded at the time and for many years after, this biographical account celebrates these reforms and examines the relevance of these reforms in modern-day penology.

“This book engages readers at several different levels,” Wilson states. “It 1) Reveals the oscillating and diverse political, judicial and community views on the functions of prisons; 2) Examines the challenging nature of prison reform, and the strategies reformers used to fight for and implement change; 3) The historical interrelationship between education in prisons and management of prisons; and 4) Provides real life stories and anecdotes to share sometimes humourous and tragic insights into the experiences of prison educators, prison management and prisoners.”

It is the author’s hope that the publication of “Joseph Akeroyd: rediscovering a prison reformer” will challenge readers to reflect on the role of education in prisons and gain insights on the challenges involved in prisoner education. Vi

Emmy award winner Kate Delaney for America Tonight Radio

New Book Details the Influence of Longtime Prison System Inspector General on Prison Reform

Author features Inspector General’s research and history that changed the prison system

VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA- Joseph Akeroyd was a schoolteacher who was appointed Inspector General of Victoria, Australia’s prison system in 1924. He held this role until 1947, becoming the longest-serving

Inspector General in Victoria’s history. Using his experience as an educator, Akeroyd was able to conduct

research that helped to change prisons.

Author Ron Wilson’s “Joseph Akeroyd: Rediscovering a Prison Reformer,” examines the experiences, achievements and failures that Akeroyd encountered during his work. Wilson was provided access to personal diaries, letters, official reports, newspaper reports and other private documentation that gave insights to Akeroyd’s agenda that established Victoria’s unique relationship combining education and prison management.

“I want to educate those who are going to teach in prisons, because I would like them to know how the prisons came to be and the reformation that lead to what they are currently are,” Wilson said. “It is important to understand the history of Joseph Akeroyd and the challenges he faced to get prisons to where they are now.”

The book also contains many personal stories, detailing Akeroyd’s interactions with infamous criminals. The examination of thwarted escape plans, rectifying wrongful convictions, recording the final days of those awaiting the noose, interviewing those about to be whipped and following up after the events are presented alongside contemporary stories of modern day interactions between teachers and prisoner students; some humorous, some sad, some sobering.

“Joseph Akeroyd: Rediscovering a Prison Reformer”

By Ron Wilson

ISBN: 978-1-6641-0650-5 (Softcover); 978-1-6641-0648-2 (E-book)

Available at Diosma Consultancy, Xlibris, Amazon and Barnes & Noble

About the author

Ron Wilson earned a Ph.D. in Management and master’s degree in Educational Management and Leadership and in Educational Research in Eltham, Victoria. He has more than 35 years of experience in education and vocational training. In 1996, Wilson was awarded the Public Service medal for Outstanding Public Service for introducing vocational education and training to Victoria’s prison system. He currently lives in Eltham, Victoria, Australia. For more information, please visit: