Comment pieces and articles

Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyon writes regularly for the Guardian's Comment is Free blog and other team members regularly contribute articles for other publications, you can read them here.

 

Jul11 11/07/2014 16:07:00 by alex

Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Theresa May MP delivered a speech last night (10 July 2014) outlining how the government is ensuring that people with mental health problems, learning disabilities and other support needs caught up in the criminal justice system are identified and diverted into appropriate healthcare and support services.

Click 'read more' to read a full transcript of the speech and download a copy of the Care not Custody briefing paper launched at the event.

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Jun25 25/06/2014 20:20:00 by tony
The Prison Reform Trust has prepared a briefing (pdf) to assist Peers in the Second Reading debate on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is scheduled to take place on Monday 30 June.
 
The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill is the fourth Ministry of Justice-led criminal justice bill introduced by the Coalition Government. Following the Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick’s recent warning of a “political and policy failure” in prison policy, it is difficult to understand why the government is introducing measures which will increase the size of the prison population, raise public costs and add significantly to the work of criminal justice agencies at a time when staff, resources and budgets are already overstretched. read more...
Jun16 16/06/2014 16:42:00 by alex
The warning by the Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick of a “political and policy failure” in prisons is(see also PRT's lead letter in The Times)  backed by the findings of a recent Prison Reform Trust report which shows a system under significant strain with high levels of overcrowding, fewer staff, worsening safety, and fewer opportunities for rehabilitation.

In the past five weeks the prison population has increased by 734 people – the size of a large prison - and now stands at 84,533.

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Jun16 16/06/2014 12:59:00 by alex

The Prison Reform Trust has prepared a briefing to assist MPs in the Report Stage (Day Two) debate on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill on Tuesday 17 June 2014.

The briefing focuses on New Clause 6 and New Clause 7. These new clauses would impose a mandatory jail sentence for a second conviction of carrying an offensive weapon or having an article with a blade or point in a public place or on school premises on children as young as 16.

Download a copy of the briefing by clicking here.

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Jun4 04/06/2014 15:56:00 by alex
Commenting on the justice provisions announced in today’s Queen’s speech, Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“At a time when prison numbers are rising and the prison service is struggling to cope with fewer staff and resources, worsening safety and reduced rehabilitation, it is difficult to understand why the government is proceeding with measures which will add significantly to the work of criminal justice agencies and increase the prison population. Rising levels of assault, suicide rates and self harm, less constructive activity and the destabilising impact of mean and petty rules on prisoners and their families call into question the government’s overall priorities and commitment to fairness and decency behind bars.

Read the full quote by clicking 'read more' read more...
May28 28/05/2014 00:01:00 by alex
A new report by the Prison Reform Trust, supported by the Bromley Trust, shows a system under significant strain with fewer staff, worsening safety, and fewer opportunities for rehabilitation.

Unprecedented cuts to the Ministry of Justice budget, due to total £2.4bn by 2015-16 , are creating a race to the bottom in prison conditions and the warehousing of people in super-sized jails, according to the Prison Reform Trust’s new report Prison: the facts. read more...
Apr29 29/04/2014 23:59:00 by tony
Letters and phone calls from prisoners reveal that, six months on from their introduction, new prison rules are undermining fairness and rehabilitation behind bars
 
Changes to prison rules introduced six months ago which include a ban on prisoners receiving books and other basic items are eliciting a strong sense of injustice in prisons and undermining opportunities for effective rehabilitation, a new briefing by the Prison Reform Trust reveals. read more...
Mar31 31/03/2014 16:13:00 by tony
The Prison Reform Trust in partnership with leading thinktanks is providing platforms for the three main political parties 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, diversion and liaison services for people with mental health needs or learning disabilities and increased use of restorative justice.
 

You can read the first of these, ‘Prisons that work’, with Rt Hon Sadiq Khan MP, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice by clicking this link

Mar31 31/03/2014 15:47:00 by Mark Day
ed clark: austere cellBanning prisoners from receiving books in prison is just one of a number of mean and petty rules introduced by the secretary of state for justice that add to the stress and strain of imprisonment, while doing nothing to promote rehabilitation and personal responsibility. read more...
Mar31 31/03/2014 14:00:00 by Mark Day

ed clark: walking cane and books in prison cellSome older people have committed serious crimes and it is important that justice is done, whether or not someone is aged 18 or 80.

But imprisonment for many old, disabled people can amount to a double punishment.

People aged over 60 are now the fastest growing age group in prison in England and Wales. As of last summer there were over 10,000 people aged 50 and over in prison, representing 12% of the total prison population. Many of this group have additional support needs, but caring for wheelchair-bound, doubly incontinent, often demented people is beyond what can be reasonably expected of prison staff.

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Mar26 26/03/2014 00:11:00 by tony
Supporting women at an early stage to help them address the causes of their offending would cut crime, reduce women’s prison numbers and save the taxpayer money, according to a new briefing launched today by the Prison Reform Trust.

Brighter Futures, supported by the Pilgrim Trust, profiles innovative approaches to reducing women’s offending and calls for the development of coordinated services that bring together police, health, women’s services and local authorities to help women turn their lives around.
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Mar18 18/03/2014 11:54:00 by Juliet Lyon & Mark Day
The former Home Secretary David Blunkett’s welcome admission that the plight of some people affected by the introduction of the Kafkaesque Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection (IPP) was on his conscience will be of little comfort to the 3,561 people in prison serving an IPP sentence held beyond their tariff expiry date. read more...
Feb20 20/02/2014 11:40:00 by alex

The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill is the fourth Ministry of Justice-led criminal justice bill introduced by the Coalition Government. The Prison Reform Trust is concerned that many of the provisions of the Bill are unnecessary and will increase the size of the prison population. They will raise public costs and add significantly to the work of criminal justice agencies in general, and the Parole Board in particular, at a time when resources and budgets are already overstretched. Many of the provisions involve significant transfers of powers to the Secretary of State, limiting the discretion of operational managers and reducing scope for effective Parliamentary scrutiny.

Plans for secure colleges could drive up the numbers of children in custody following a welcome period of decline both in youth imprisonment and youth crime. While education is vital, provision for children must take account of mental health needs, learning disabilities and difficulties, addictions and childhood abuse or neglect. This requires cooperation across government and not just another criminal justice-led response to tackling entrenched social problems.

Download a copy of our second reading briefing by clicking here.

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Feb18 18/02/2014 10:01:00 by tony

HMP Pentonville, north LondonCommenting on HM Inspectorate of Prisons report on HMP Pentonville, Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"Despite some welcome improvements, this report is one in a long line of inspectorate reports into large, local Victorian jails which show that the pressures of coping with shrinking budgets and rising prison numbers are turning parts of our prison estate into human warehouses, with staff who are hard pressed to provide purposeful activity, education and employment or meet even the basic needs of such a vulnerable and needy population."

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Feb6 06/02/2014 10:57:00 by alex

Commenting on the government’s announcement today of an independent review into the deaths of young people in custody, Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“We welcome the government’s commitment to establish an independent review into the deaths of young people in custody. In preparation for and during the review, it will be vital that proper account is taken of the views and experiences of bereaved families. The scope of the review should extend well beyond the short journey from the court to prison. The review has the potential to go further than coroners are able, and many would like, to take account of how a young person first got into trouble, underlying vulnerability or history of abuse or neglect and the sentencing decisions that led to imprisonment.

Click 'read more' to see our full comment.


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Feb4 04/02/2014 09:50:00 by tony

PrisonWorks, a volunteer-led charity based in the Isle of Man prison at Jurby which provides restorative programmes for prisoners to help them address the consequences of their actions, has won the Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation 2014. The award is kindly supported by the Worshipful Company of Weavers.

The runner up prize was awarded to The Forgiveness Project for its preparatory restorative justice work undertaken as part of its national RESTORE programme at HMP-YOI Parc in Wales. read more...
Jan30 30/01/2014 10:31:00 by alex

Commenting on the Criminal Justice Joint Inspectorate report, A joint inspection of the treatment of offenders with learning disabilities within the criminal justice system: phase 1 from arrest to sentence, Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This report reveals that at every turn people with learning disabilities caught up in the justice system are being let down by a failure to recognise and meet their needs. Often vulnerable and isolated, people with learning disabilities are getting little or no help to understand and navigate a scary and incomprehensible world of police stations and courts."

Click read more to see our full comment.

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Jan13 13/01/2014 11:18:00 by tony
A letter from the Care not Custody Coalition published in the Guardian on Friday January 10 2014 welcomed the government's announcement launching a trial scheme posting mental health nurses in police stations in 10 areas in England. However the coalition urged the government to stick to its new deadline of national delivery by 2017, three years later than originally planned.

Click the link below to read the letter and find out more about the Care not Custody Coalition. read more...
Dec20 20/12/2013 00:01:00 by alex

Petty prison post ban will mean a lonelier Christmas for thousands of people in prison.

For the first time this Christmas, people in prison will not be able to receive parcels from their loved ones under petty and mean new rules introduced by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

The new rules, which forbid prisoners from receiving any items in the post unless there are exceptional circumstances, were introduced in November as part of the government’s changes to the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme. read more...
Dec18 18/12/2013 00:01:00 by alex
Commenting on the announcement by the Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill Committee, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

"The European Court of Human Rights, the Attorney General, and now the Bill Committee have all declared that the automatic and indiscriminate ban on all convicted prisoners voting is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. Today's announcement marks an important step forward in a dispiriting process that has dragged on for over eight years.

"Most people accept that it is important to make the punishment fit the crime so it is only regrettable that the Committee has recommended retaining an automatic ban for prisoners serving sentences of more than 12 months, regardless of their particular offence, rather than extend the franchise further with certain exceptions, for example in cases of electoral fraud.

Click 'read more' to see our full response to the Committee's findings.

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Oct30 30/10/2013 00:01:00 by alex

Nearly half of people in prison in England and Wales could be warehoused in 1,000-plus supersized jails under government plans to transform the prison estate, the latest edition of the Prison Reform Trust's Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile reveals.

A shorter summary version, Prison: The Facts, is available for iPad and iPhone on the App Store and for Android devices via Google Play.

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Oct28 28/10/2013 00:01:00 by alex

Secure, controlled access to computers and the internet can transform education, family contact and resettlement in prisons and reduce reoffending on release, according to a new joint report launched today by the Prison Reform Trust and Prisoners Education Trust.

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Oct22 22/10/2013 12:08:00 by tony
People with learning disabilities and difficulties in the justice system are not getting equal access to the law or support to successfully complete prison or community sentences because information presented to them is not made accessible.
 
At a meeting in the House of Lords today (Tuesday 22 October) organised by the charity KeyRing Living Support Networks working with the Prison Reform Trust, former prisoners and people working in the justice system will demonstrate good practice and call for an expansion in the use of Easy Read materials. read more...
Sep12 12/09/2013 00:01:00 by tony
Responding to the Justice Committee report into older people in prison, the Prison Reform Trust called for a national strategy across justice and health to address the rapidly growing numbers of older people behind bars. Commenting, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"Imprisonment of old, disabled people amounts to a double punishment. Caring for wheelchair-bound, doubly incontinent, often demented people is beyond what we can reasonably expect of prison staff. Solutions lie not in adapting totally unsuitable, outdated prison accommodation but in secure homes for the elderly, family and community support and the proper engagement of social care services."
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Sep4 04/09/2013 13:51:00 by tony
Commenting on today's government announcement on prison building and closures, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
"Closing small local prisons and replacing them with supersized jails will not reduce crime or make communities safer. You can and should modernise the prison system without throwing taxpayers' money down the prison-building drain. The millions secured for new-build prisons could be more effectively spent on robust community service, treatment for addicts and care for people who are mentally ill."
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Jul10 10/07/2013 12:35:00 by alex

A requirement that the particular needs of women offenders must be addressed in the provision of supervision and rehabilitation services is now included in the Offender Rehabilitation Bill and will be given the force of law when enacted.

The Offender Rehabilitation Bill was amended by the Government during the House of Lords third reading yesterday (9 July 2013) to require the Secretary of State to ensure that arrangements for supervision and rehabilitation services comply with the public sector equality duty “as it relates to female offenders”.  This will apply to public, private, and voluntary sector providers of offender services.

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Jul4 04/07/2013 00:05:00 by alex

As the Justice Secretary announces 70 resettlement prisons, briefing finds budget cuts and overcrowding are leading to less purposeful activity, reduced regimes and more time in cell.

Massive cuts in prison staff and budgets are placing overcrowded prisons in England and Wales under unprecedented strain and undermining government plans to transform rehabilitation, the Prison Reform Trust's new iPad app Prison: The Facts, Bromley Briefings Online, reveals.

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Jun24 24/06/2013 14:25:00 by alex
Jenny Earle, director of PRT’s Programme to Reduce Women’s Imprisonment, took part in a panel discussion on Woman’s Hour which broadcast a special programme examining alternatives to prison for low-risk women offenders on Wednesday 19 June.

The programme featured moving accounts from women who have received support from Anawim women’s centre in Birmingham, and the panel included Joy Doal of Anawim and Alan Beith MP, Chair of the Justice Select Committee. The Minister Helen Grant MP was also interviewed and expressed her support for community sentences and the work of women’s centres.

You can listen to the show here

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Jun12 12/06/2013 10:22:00 by alex

The Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has said better community alternatives to women’s imprisonment are a priority in the Scottish Government’s plans to reform women’s justice.

Speaking ahead of a reception in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon (Wednesday) to mark the initiative by the Soroptimists and the Prison Reform Trust to reduce women’s imprisonment across the UK and to publicise their action pack, he said:

“Reducing reoffending, improving the circumstances of women in prison and seeking better community-based alternatives to imprisonment for women continue to be priorities for the Scottish Government  – indeed, that’s why we established the Commission on Women Offenders.”

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May20 20/05/2013 00:05:00 by tony

The Prison Reform Trust, in partnership with the University of the Third Age and Pact (the Prison Advice and Care Trust), will today (Monday 20 May 2013) launch two new resources for the public at a reception at Manchester Town Hall.

Where Do You Stand? and What Can I Do? are designed to inform debate by busting myths about the penal system, and to equip people to get involved in making a difference by promoting a wide range of volunteering opportunities.

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May15 15/05/2013 10:31:00 by tony
Soroptimist (UK), in partnership with the Prison Reform Trust, will today (Wednesday 15th May 2013) launch an action pack at a reception at the Pierhead in Cardiff to support their initiative to reduce women’s imprisonment across the UK.

More than eight out of ten of sentenced women entering prison have been convicted of non-violent offences. Many have young children. Many have themselves been the victims of serious crime, including domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape.

 

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May9 09/05/2013 10:20:00 by alex


Commenting on the government’s plans announced in the Queen’s Speech to extend probation supervision to short sentenced prisoners, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“According to government figures, community sentences are better at cutting reoffending than a short spell behind bars. So, rather than use prison as a gateway to rehabilitation for over 50,000 petty offenders, the Justice Secretary should ensure that cost effective, robust community penalties are available to all courts in England and Wales.

“For those whose offending is so serious to warrant up to a year in custody, then supervision, support and drug treatment on release make some sense. There is a downside: a year of demands and an inflexible approach to breach of license conditions could refill our prisons and spin people through the revolving door of prison and crime.”

“Payment by results is untried and untested in the criminal justice system. Reform should be properly thought through and based on evidence of what works. The government should build on best practice rather than risk fragmenting the probation service and undermining the vital role played by small voluntary organisations in the delivery of services for vulnerable offenders. Is it wise to widen the ambit of the criminal justice industry when many of the solutions to crime lie in prevention, housing, employment, mental health and social care and treatment for addictions?”


Click read more to read our submissions to the Transforming Rehabilitation consultation.


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Apr30 30/04/2013 12:25:00 by alex
Commenting on the government’s proposed reforms to the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme, Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“Tough political talk, budget cuts and reduced staffing levels are all piling pressure on prisons and prisoners. However new proposals to focus on the first two weeks in custody, the riskiest time for vulnerable people, present an opportunity to ensure proper induction and enable prisoners to make best use of their time behind bars.

Click read more to see the full comment.
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Apr25 25/04/2013 07:16:00 by alex

Soroptimist (UK), in partnership with the Prison Reform Trust, will today (Thursday 25 April 2013) launch an action pack at a reception in the House of Commons to support the Soroptimists’ initiative to reduce women’s imprisonment in the UK.

Click this link to find out more and download the pack

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Apr18 18/04/2013 10:30:00 by alex

Adult social care services have a vital, and often overlooked, role in supporting the large number of people with multiple needs who offend to desist from crime, according to a new joint briefing by the Prison Reform Trust, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), the Centre for Mental Health and Revolving Doors Agency.

Click this link to read more and download the report 

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Mar23 23/03/2013 15:31:00 by alex
Commenting on the Justice Minister Helen Grant’s announcement in Parliament today of measures to provide a greater focus on the support and rehabilitation of female offenders, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

The Minister’s announcement should be a catalyst for coordinated cross-government action to reduce women’s prison numbers. Over 10,000 women were sent to prison every year, most to serve short sentences for non-violent crimes. Many women in prison have themselves been the victims of serious crime, including domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape. Mental health problems, drug and alcohol addiction and self-harm are particularly common among women in prison. Each year, more than 17,000 children are separated from their mothers by imprisonment.
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Feb21 21/02/2013 11:24:00 by alex

A new briefing by the free market thinktank, Reform, sets out to reignite the debate about the role of the private sector in our prisons.

Read our response to the report's findings here.

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Feb6 06/02/2013 12:10:00 by tony

KeepOut, an innovative crime diversion scheme delivered by dedicated teams of serving prisoners, has won the inaugural Robin Corbett Award for Prisoner Rehabilitation 2013.

 

 


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Feb6 06/02/2013 07:33:00 by tony

A new report released today by the Prison Reform Trust and YoungMinds reveals that high numbers of vulnerable children with mental health needs and learning disabilities are getting caught up in the criminal justice system. The charities found that children who offend have health, care and education needs which, if not met, could lead to a lifetime of ill health, unemployment and crime.

 


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Jan30 30/01/2013 07:47:00 by tony
Most foreign national women in custody in England and Wales who have been trafficked into offending are not getting the help and support to which they are entitled as victims of crime, a University of Cambridge report reveals.

The report’s authors found violence, intimidation and rape were common experiences of the women, but evidence of their suffering was often overlooked and they did not receive the protection guaranteed to them as victims of human trafficking under international law. In only one of the cases of human trafficking identified by the researchers did victim disclosures result in a full police investigation in relation to the actions of the perpetrators. read more...
Jan10 10/01/2013 13:09:00 by alex

The Prison Reform Trust has today published a briefing to assist MPs in the Second Reading Debate on the Crime and Courts Bill on Monday 14 January. Following discussions with MPs and the outcome of previous stages of the Bill, the briefing highlights key parts to Schedule 15 (Dealing non-custodially with offenders) as well as significant omissions in the Bill.

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Jan10 10/01/2013 12:22:00 by alex

Commenting on new government plans for prison closures and building, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"Closing prisons and reducing prison numbers offers major social and economic gains but it would be a gigantic mistake if the Justice Secretary were to revive the discredited idea of  titans and pour taxpayers' money down the prison building drain, when the Coalition Government could invest in crime prevention, healthcare and community solutions to crime.

"Small community prisons tend to be safer and better at reducing reoffending than huge anonymous establishments.

"Prison is an important place of last resort for serious and violent offenders not, as it has become, a place to dump people who are mentally ill, those with learning disabilities, addicts and vulnerable women and children."

Plans to build three 2,500-capacity "Titan" jails by the previous government at a cost of £2.9 billion were scrapped in 2009 following representations by the Prison Reform Trust and allied organisations. Read our briefing here.

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Dec20 20/12/2012 11:46:00 by alex

Peers have backed an important amendment to the Crime and Courts Bill requiring contracts made with probation trusts to make "appropriate provision for the delivery of services to female offenders".

The amendment, drafted by the Prison Reform Trust with the assistance of Paul Cavadino, was moved by the Chair of the Prison Reform Trust, the former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf. It stated the need for programmes to prevent reoffending with "the particular needs of women in mind".

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Dec20 20/12/2012 11:17:00 by alex

A new prison service instruction is set to improve sentencing planning for prisoners, especially for those serving an Indeterminate sentence for Public Protection (IPP) and for people who have a learning disability.

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Dec18 18/12/2012 15:21:00 by sarah
A YouGov opinion poll, released today by the Prison Reform Trust, reveals strong public support for effective community and public health measures to prevent crime and disorder. 
 
The poll is launched ahead of the delayed announcement by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, confirmed today in Parliament for early in the New Year, which is expected to introduce radical changes to the probation service and the way in which community sentences are delivered.
 
Treatment for drug addiction, intensive supervision of community orders, and mental health care were the top three solutions to get public backing in the poll commissioned by the Prison Reform Trust. read more...
Nov26 26/11/2012 00:01:00 by alex

A YouGov opinion poll, launched today by the Prison Reform Trust, reveals strong support for public health measures to tackle women’s offending. Treatment for drug addiction, help to stop alcohol misuse, and mental healthcare, were the top three solutions to get public backing for reducing offending by women who commit non-violent crimes.

The Prison Reform Trust is launching these poll results on the day that Dame Elish Angiolini delivers the Prison Reform Trust lecture 2012 on Reforming Women’s Justice. You can watch the lecture here and read it here.

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Nov22 22/11/2012 15:21:00 by alex

Read today's jointly signed letter in the Guardian calling on the government to comply with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights and allow prisoners the vote.

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Oct24 24/10/2012 00:01:00 by sarah

A new evidence based report examining the experiences and treatment of children and young people who died in prison custody in England and Wales is published by INQUEST and the Prison Reform Trust today. Fatally Flawed: Has the state learned lessons from the deaths of children and young people in prison? is an in-depth analysis of the deaths of children and young people (aged 18-24) while in the care of the state.

Juliet Lyon, director, Prison Reform Trust, said:

Every young death in custody is a tragedy made all the more harrowing when such deaths could be prevented by effective safeguarding measures and greater cooperation between health, welfare and criminal justice agencies.

After 200 deaths in ten years it is time to learn that locking up our most vulnerable children and young people in our bleakest institutions is a process that is fatally flawed.

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Oct22 22/10/2012 09:37:00 by sarah
What I have been trying to do – in opposition and now in government – is break out of this sterile debate and show a new way forward: tough, but intelligent. We need to be tough because the foundation of effective criminal justice is personal responsibility. read more...
Oct8 08/10/2012 14:26:00 by alex

On 5 October, Geoff Dobson, Company Secretary, and former Chief Probation Officer for Hertfordshire delivered a speech at the napo AGM, which is celebrating its centenary this year.

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Sep18 18/09/2012 11:33:00 by alex

Commenting on the ruling by the European Court on the indeterminate sentence for public protection (IPP), Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This judgement should prompt the new Secretary of State to institute a review of the cases of over 3,500 people held beyond their indeterminate sentence tariff dates, use his discretion under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (2012) to change the release test and eradicate a stain on our justice system.

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Sep11 11/09/2012 16:00:00 by alex


The Prison Reform Trust has recently provided evidence and a submission to the Justice Committee’s inquiry on women offenders, and the Scottish Prison Service’s consultation on women in custody.

Read our responses here


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Sep5 05/09/2012 11:03:00 by alex

The Prison Reform Trust has welcomed the appointment of Chris Grayling as Justice Secretary and called on him to have the “strength and courage” to build on the important programme of justice reform begun by Ken Clarke.

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Aug28 28/08/2012 11:20:00 by sarah

Overcrowding and high reoffending rates are a fact of life in today’s prison system according to an analysis of recent prison population statistics by the Prison Reform Trust. Despite opening two new prisons this year with a capacity of 2,500 places, 59% of prisons in England and Wales are operating at an overcrowded level. 

Although the growth in the prison population has slowed down in recent months, prompting plans to close HMP Wellingborough, there are still 7,294 more people in the prison system than it is designed and built to hold.  On 31 July 2012, there were 77 out of 131 establishments over the Prison Service’s Certified Normal Accommodation: “the good, decent standard of accommodation that the Service aspires to provide all prisoners”.

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Aug21 21/08/2012 13:33:00 by sarah

Commenting on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons thematic review of remand prisoners, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

People held on remand awaiting trial are innocent until proven guilty but the findings of this worrying review make a mockery of that principle. It’s clear that people remanded into custody are often held in worse conditions and receive less help and support than those convicted of a crime and serving a prison sentence.

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May28 28/05/2012 14:00:00 by sarah

On Tuesday 22 May the European Court of Human Rights published their judgment in the case of Scoppola v. Italy (no 3). The Court has confirmed the Hirst (no. 2) v. the United Kingdom judgment of October 2005 that a blanket ban on all serving prisoners losing voting rights is a breach of their human rights. 

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May28 28/05/2012 12:24:00 by sarah

Prison Reform Trust's company secretary Geoff Dobson has written an article on the future of probation, originally published in the Guardian's Society section on Wednesday 23 May 2012. 

Below is his article in full, and you can read the Guardian article here

What does a modern effective Probation Service look like? The closing date for two important Ministry of Justice consultations will be reached on 22 June. Proposals to reform community sentences have received publicity to date, not least because of eye catching suggestions to extend the use of electronic monitoring to track offenders and to introduce sobriety bracelets. Within that report is an important section on restorative justice, opening up the possibility for far greater use of this approach, both pre and post sentence. 

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Apr24 24/04/2012 13:55:00 by alex
The Health Secretary Andrew Lansley and the Justice Minister Crispin Blunt have outlined the progress made towards diverting people with mental health needs from the justice system into treatment and care at a Westminster reception on 23 April.

The ministers detailed steps taken towards the creation of a national liaison and diversion service for vulnerable offenders by 2014, backed by Department of Health investment of £50 million towards its development and evaluation. read more...
Nov24 24/11/2011 14:39:00 by

The coalition Government has abandoned plans to axe the Youth Justice Board, justice minister Lord McNally announced on 23 November 2011.The U-turn comes after Justice Secretary Ken Clarke announced that his department would not go ahead with plans to abolish the role of chief coroner.

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Nov21 21/11/2011 00:01:00 by alex
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill presents an opportunity to get to grips with a distorted, often ineffective, system which places too much store on what imprisonment can achieve.

With government amendments to reform indeterminate sentences of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPPs), the Bill contains many important features of the Green Paper. It has, however, lost some of its clarity of purpose. PRT published a briefing for the House of Lords second reading which propose amendments to strengthen the Bill and help create a fairer and more effective justice system. 

A copy of the briefing can be viewed by clicking this link.

You can also download Prison Reform Trust's detailed response to the justice green paper by clicking this link

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