Prison Breaks pp 237-262 | Cite as

Chapter 9 The Tricky Escape from Kizoti Court: Entanglement, Precarity and Ugandan Prison Staff

  • Tomas Max Martin
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Prisons and Penology book series (PSIPP)


On the basis of an ethnographic study of governance and transition in Ugandan prisons, this chapter posits that escapes offer a particular pregnant entry point for the analysis of bureaucratic precarity, its reproduction and effects. I describe and unpack a particular escape incident, which I witnessed and later followed over a couple of years during fieldwork. The chapter introduces the court setting, where the escape took place and where it had a significant afterlife as the involved staff was subsequently charged. I describe the local practices of ‘linking’ and ‘lunching’ in the court to illustrate ever-present role of intermediation in Uganda’s do-it-yourself bureaucracy and the entanglement of staff and prisoner lives and roles. In conclusion, I consequently argue that the escape event shows how everyday life in this penal bureaucracy is at once volatile and violative and inherently precarious – not only for prisoners, but also for the staff.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tomas Max Martin
    • 1
  1. 1.DIGNITY—Danish Institute Against TortureCopenhagen ØDenmark

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