Prison: the facts

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2015 Longford Lecture


Michael Palin: 'Collateral damage: The effects of prison sentences on offenders' families'
"The influence of the family relationship on the mental and physical state of the offender is profound. It can be damaging, or it can be powerfully beneficial. One thing it can't be, is ignored."

Click here to find out more about Michael Palin's 2015 Longford Lecture.

Click here to read a PDF transcript of the lecture.



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Mental health care

2 hours ago

Ahead of today's (25 November) Spending Review the Care not Custody Coalition, established following the tragic death by suicide of a WI member's son suffering from schizophrenia, has written a letter in today's edition of The Times.

You can read the letter by clicking 'read more'.

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Over 9,000 women were received into prison last year, most of them for non-violent offences, many of them leaving dependent children behind. An estimated 17,240 children, including many under 5 years old, are separated from their mothers by imprisonment. The impact on children can be profound and long-lasting – including increased risks of mental illness and anti-social behaviour. Only 5% of children with a mother in prison are able to stay in the family home – and only 9% are cared for by their fathers. By contrast, most children with an imprisoned father remain with their mother.

In a discussion paper published today (24 November), the Prison Reform Trust considers sentencing policy, process and practice through a review of case law and research evidence, talking to mothers in prison, and consultations with key individuals and organisations. Based on this analysis, it proposes a number of reforms to reduce the number of children separated from their mothers through imprisonment.

Click 'read more' for the full story.

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Reforming our prisons

16/11/2015 11:54:00

As we begin Prisons Week (15–21 November) Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, has written an article in this month's edition of The Friend magazine. You can read the full article by clicking 'read more'.

“Prison is a place where people are sent as a punishment, not for further punishments...Human beings whose lives have been reckoned so far in costs—to society, to the criminal justice system, to victims and to themselves—can become assets—citizens who can contribute and demonstrate the human capacity for redemption.”

These were the words of the incoming Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, in July this year. For Friends, and others with a longstanding commitment to prison reform, this was a welcome reassertion of the principles which should underpin any civilised penal system. So far so good. However, the Justice Secretary has inherited a system that is deteriorating both on internal and external measures, and a requirement to carve anything from 25% to 40% out of its budget over the next five years.

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Commenting on today’s (9 November 2015) announcement that the Ministry of Justice will build nine new prisons, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“The Justice Secretary’s commitment to better conditions and more effective rehabilitation are welcome. Many of our prisons need to be shut down.

"But prison reform is about more than replacing old buildings.  The crisis he faces now is with prisons that have deteriorated sharply as budgets have been slashed and staff numbers cut. Pressure on the system has to be relieved by revising the sentencing framework and curbing ever lengthening sentence lengths , investing now in diverting addicts and people with mental health needs into treatment and dealing with the forgotten thousands of prisoners still held long beyond terms set by courts.

"To live within his means, Michael Gove needs to close many more prisons than he builds. He can do that safely and the time has come to set out how.”

You can also read our response to the Spending Review by clicking here.

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