Prison: the facts

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As you will be aware, we were delighted to announce in January that James Timpson OBE is to chair PRT from tomorrow, 1st April 2016. We are pleased to tell you that our current chair, Lord Woolf, has kindly agreed to become honorary president of the Prison Reform Trust alongside Douglas Hurd.

I am also taking this opportunity to let friends know of my own plan to step down in the summer as director of PRT. In a measured transition for the charity, this will enable our new Chair and the Board of Trustees to choose a new director, the third in its history, to lead our excellent team and make a substantive contribution to the proposed new prison reform bill and forthcoming white paper. There is huge scope to build on recent achievements which we have helped to secure from reducing child imprisonment to developing services to divert people with mental health needs or a learning disability into the treatment and care they need.

I am tremendously grateful to have been given the opportunity, with your support, to lead such a good charity and to champion such a worthwhile cause. In over sixteen years there has been so much to learn from all those involved with and in prisons, about advocacy and the need to take a balanced, strategic approach, about the nature of critical friendship to a valued but beleaguered public service, about how to brook disappointment and how, hopefully without over-claiming, to celebrate the success of PRT with our partners and supporters.

Juliet has written an article for the Guardian about plan to step down, you can read it by clicking this link.

You can listen to a BBC profile of Juliet by clicking here and read her article in the Friend.

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This morning BBC Radio 4's Today programme examined the enduring legacy of the Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection. Nearly four years since its abolition, there are still over 4,000 people in prison serving this discredited sentence, unsure when or if they will ever be released. Four out of every five are still stuck behind bars despite having served their minimum term, no longer in prison for what they have done, but for what they might do.

The programme profiled case of James Ward, who in 2006 was given an IPP sentence with a ten month tariff, the time he must spend in prison. Ten years later he is still in prison and has no release date. You can listen to James' story by clicking here.

Prison Reform Trust director, Juliet Lyon, appeared on BBC Radio 4 to press for a case by case review for people stuck in prison on the IPP, unsure of when they will be released. Click here to listen to the interview on BBC Radio 4, and click here to listen to her interview on BBC 5 Live.

Today's welcome intervention by Ken Clarke, who abolished the sentence whilst justice secretary in 2012, and the admission by former Home Secretary David Blunkett that he regrets the injustices of the sentence, place further pressure on the government to address this injustice and outline a clear plan to confine the IPP to the history books once and for all.

Following correspondence and a meeting with the Justice Secretary, PRT noted that Michael Gove was considering how best to tackle the terrible legacy of this discredited sentence.

Click read more for further information about the IPP sentence.

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Up to half of all children in custody have been in care at some point. This is a tragic waste of young lives which must be addressed if all children in care are to get the best start in life, an independent review chaired by the crossbench peer Lord Laming has said.

The review, established by the Prison Reform Trust, calls for a coherent programme of reform, led from the very top of government, to help improve the life chances of looked after children and prevent future crime.

Click 'read more' for the full story

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Queen’s speech: Prisons Bill

18/05/2016 12:50:00

Commenting on today’s announcement of a Prisons Bill in the Queen’s Speech, Juliet Lyon director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“It's good that prison reform is at the top of the government’s agenda—for far too long prisons have been our most neglected, least visible public service. The most pressing priority is to restore prison safety and stem the catastrophic rise in suicides, violence and disorder.

More freedom for governors, long overdue access to modern IT, sensible plans for release on temporary licence and constructive use of tagging to curtail liberty should all be part of a modern justice system. 

But reform will run into the sand unless government is prepared to tackle prison numbers and introduce major sentencing reform as part of its groundbreaking Prisons Bill."

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Commenting on the Justice Committee's report Peter Dawson, deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: 

“The Justice Committee’s shocking report requires an urgent practical response. Recruiting and retaining staff is part of that. But we are also paying the price for our over-use of imprisonment. The Government’s prison reform package must tackle both issues if stability is to be restored.”

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