Fewer than one in 10 women released from a prison sentence of under 12 months managed to secure a ‘positive employment outcome’ within a year of release. This is three times worse than the equivalent figure for men, a new briefing published by the Prison Reform Trust reveals.
Welcome moves announced today (Thursday 29 January) by the Justice Minister Simon Hughes to prioritise women’s community provision and improve employment opportunities for women offenders need to be accelerated if women’s offending is to be effectively tackled.
Nearly half (45%) of women leaving prison are reconvicted within one year of release. Employment is vital to reducing risk of reoffending, but women offenders often face additional barriers to gaining work, including a lack of childcare support, lack of qualifications, low pay and the stigma of imprisonment.
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The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Justice, delivered a keynote address at an event jointly hosted by the Prison Reform Trust and Centre for Social Justice on Monday 26 January. You can read a copy of the speech by clicking 'read more'.
The Prison Reform Trust in partnership with leading thinktanks has provided platforms to the three main political parties for them to outline their justice proposals ahead of the 2015 general election. PRT believes there is scope for political consensus on prison reform. Parties wish to see decent, fair and purposeful prisons, a reduction in women's imprisonment, liaison and diversion services for people with mental health needs or learning disabilities and increased use of restorative justice.
Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan MP set out Labour prisons policy last year at an event hosted by PRT and IPPR. You can read his speech by clicking here. Liberal Democrat justice minister, Simon Hughes MP, also delivered a speech at an event hosted with CentreForum which you can read by clicking here.
Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, gave evidence to the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee inquiry 'prisons in Wales and treatment of Welsh offenders’ on Tuesday 13 January, the evidence session examined the ill thought through plans to build a new super-sized 2,000 place prison in Wrexham. PRT’s written evidence to the committee said that the plans are unlikely to bring the benefits to the Welsh economy that have been claimed, and are instead an English solution to an English problem.
The Committee considered the recommendation of the Silk Commission to devolve youth justice. It examined how the National Offender Management Service and Welsh Government can hold people closer to their families and support networks, improve resettlement for people returning to Wales and increase cooperation between devolved and non-devolved bodies in meeting the needs of Welsh offenders.
You can read the evidence by clicking here, or you can watch the session by clicking here. You can also read our written evidence submitted to the committee by clicking here. Coverage of the evidence session can also be read by clicking here.
Too many women in the UK are still being sent to prison instead of receiving community sanctions and targeted support to address the causes of their offending, according to a leading women’s voluntary organisation.
The women’s prison population doubled between 1995 and 2010. Most women in prison serve short prison sentences for non-violent offences and many have themselves been victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. In 2011 the Soroptimist UK Programme Action Committee resolved to work with the Prison Reform Trust to reduce women’s imprisonment.
Now a wealth of information gathered by 139 Soroptimists clubs across the UK has been distilled into a report that is intended to spur national and local governments into action. The report recommends the development in England and Wales of a cross-government strategy for women’s justice, led by the Minister for Female Offenders. Recommendations for improvements to the oversight of women’s justice in Scotland and Northern Ireland are also highlighted.
Download the report by clicking here.
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