The African Prisons Project works to bring dignity and hope to men, women and children in prisons in Africa through a model which includes the development of prison libraries and health centers; functional adult literacy and life skills for prisoners and prisons staff and leadership development. The talk will consider responses to some of the current challenges facing prisoners and prisons services in Africa, and examples of radical change. Alexander McLean will share his story and experiences from working in several dozen prisons and visits to almost a hundred more in countries including Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and South Africa.
Despite major challenges including massive overcrowding, lack of access to justice, healthcare and rehabilitation many African prisons services and their partners, including the APP, have found innovative and low cost ways to transform the lives of prisoners and staff, and ultimately to reduce recidivism. The lessons learnt will have the power to challenge and inspire their better-resourced counterparts in the United States and beyond.


Alexander McLeanAlexander McLean graduated in July 2007 from the University of Nottingham. Since then he has been based in Kampala, establishing a team of local and international staff and volunteers to create the African Prisons Project (APP). Now APP has served more than 25000 people in prison in Uganda, Kenya and Sierra Leone and has been invited to begin work in a variety of other countries. APP establishes high quality, low cost health and education infrastructure in prisons, provides functional adult literacy and other training for prisoners and prisons staff, and develops leadership in prisons through supporting tertiary education.  Alexander received his Master of Laws from the University of London in March 2009 after studying by correspondence. He was called to the bar of England and Wales as a barrister in 2010. He is currently writing a PhD on issues relating to the death penalty.

Alexander has received several awards for his work.They include UK Charity Volunteer of the Year 2006, UK Young Philanthropist of the Year 2007, Overall Winner, Beacon Prize for Philanthropy 2007, University of Nottingham Alumni of the Year 2007, UK Graduate of the Year 2007, winner of the Vodafone World of Difference Prize 2008, winner of the 2011 Bert Thompson Award for Restorative Justice, one of the Devex Top 40 under-40 Leaders in International Development and a 2012 TEDGlobal Fellow. The African Prisons Project was a runner up in the New Charity of the Year category at the Charity Times Awards 2008. APP was the winner of the Clifford Chance 2011 Access to Justice Award.

Alexander is a Hardwicke and Lord Mansfield Scholar of Lincoln’s Inn. He is the youngest Fellow of the Beacon Trust and a Magistrate on the Nottingham bench. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in October 2008. He was the first member of the University of Nottingham to be appointed an Alumni Laureate. He is a member of the Legal Committee of the International Corrections and Prisons Association. He is a member of the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association.


MarkWilliamsMark Williams is a Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights. He received his J.D. from the University of California at Hastings in 1990. He has practiced law for nearly twenty years internationally and in the United States.

Over the past few years, Mark focused his research and travel on understanding solutions for improving global access to clean drinking water and sanitation. He co-authored an article with Professor Barbara Cosens of the University of Idaho College of Law that is entitled Resilience and Water Governance: Adaptive Governance in the Columbia River Basin, submitted for publication in the Ecology and Society Journal. He traveled to Ecuador to study the “rights of nature” and “right to water” constitutional amendments, and to Haiti to learn about small-scale water projects. Mark also attended numerous conferences, including “Implementing the Human Right to Water in the West,” held at Willamette College of Law in 2010, the 2011 California Water Law Symposium, and the 2011 American Bar Association Annual Water Law Conference. These experiences inspired a passion for the emerging human rights to water and sanitation and led him to join the Carr Center in 2011 as a Fellow in the Human Right to Water Program.