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.
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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."
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.”
Commenting on today's HM Inspectorate of Prisons report of HMP Wormwood Scrubs, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
“This shattering report on London’s best-known Victorian jail reveals levels of Dickensian squalor which ought to have been consigned to the history books. Inspectors found deteriorating levels of safety, poor staff/management relations, high use of force, inadequate support for people at risk of suicide and self-harm and a prison awash with drink and drugs. Most men were locked up 22 hours a day and the prison was filthy and rat-infested. These inhumane, degrading conditions have no place in a modern justice system. No prison goes downhill overnight. Putting things right is a litmus test for a government publicly committed to reform.”
You can download the report by clicking here.
photo: Chmee2 under creative commons.