Older people in prison

Commenting on the findings of the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman report on discrimination complaints, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This report by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman adds to the growing weight of evidence that prisons are failing to tackle discrimination. It echoes the findings of our own research, showing that many people, legitimately seeking answers, face unacceptable delays and inadequate responses. The neglect of remedies for unfair treatment should concern us all. A well functioning complaints system is a fundamental part of a successful prison service. It allows grievances to be resolved at an early stage and provides vital opportunities for prisons to learn. The government is failing to meet its legal responsibilities to promote equality in criminal justice. The Ombudsman’s report helps to show what government must do to repair the processes of resolving complaints about discrimination.”


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The latest edition of the Prison Reform Trust's Bromley briefings prison factfile highlights in facts and figures the consequences of a punitive political arms race over criminal justice policy over the past three decades. Steep cuts to prison staff and budgets in recent years have exposed the fault lines of a failed approach. The result is an overcrowded and overstretched prison system where standards of safety and decency are way below international expectations.
 
This year’s Bromley briefings open with a brand new section which we have called “The long view”. The Prison Reform Trust has built its reputation over more than three decades on presenting accurate evidence about prisons and the people in them. In a world where ministers feel compelled to respond to issues with ever greater immediacy, “The long view” offers an antidote to the latest Twitter storm or early morning grilling in the media.

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Commenting on the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland's thematic inspection on older prisoners, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

"This report highlights the challenges of providing effective care and a constructive regime for an increasingly elderly and frail prison population. It is a challenge which the Scottish prison service cannot meet on its own. Prison staff should not be expected to do the jobs of nurses and care providers. A comprehensive strategy is needed to ensure health, social care and criminal justice agencies work together to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of people growing old behind bars."

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Commenting on the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman’s bulletin on prisoners with dementia, Peter Dawson, Incoming Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: 

“This report highlights in distressing detail how imprisonment for many old, disabled people can amount to a double punishment. Prisoners are entitled to the same care in prison as they would receive in the community. They should not be subject to inhumane or degrading treatment due to a lack of preparedness by the prison service. The cross-party Justice Committee, the independent Prisons Inspectorate, and now the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, have called on the government urgently to develop a national strategy to deal with the rapidly growing numbers of elderly and infirm people behind bars. The new justice secretary should heed their advice.”

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Older people released from prison are being set up to fail by a lack of adequate provision to meet their health and social care needs, according to a report published today by the Prison Reform Trust and Restore Support Network.

Limited and inconsistent support to help sort out housing, employment, personal finances and debt, drug and alcohol dependence, and re-establish family relationships is also undermining the effective resettlement of older prisoners and increases the risk of future offending.

The report, Social care or systematic neglect?, calls for the creation of a cross-government national strategy for meeting the health, social and rehabilitative needs of older people in prison and on release in the community.

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An explosion in the use of indeterminate sentences and the increased use of long determinate sentences are key drivers behind the near doubling of prison numbers in the past two decades. The latest edition of the Bromley Briefing Prison Factfile, published today (30 November) by the Prison Reform Trust, reveals the cost of our addiction to imprisonment in wasted time, money and lives.

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A rapid expansion in the prison population in England and Wales over the past twenty years is placing a growing burden on the taxpayer while reoffending rates out of prison have remained stubbornly high, according to a new report by the Prison Reform Trust.

Analysis published in Prison: The Facts estimates that in 2014 the cost of holding that increased population at today’s costs was an extra £1.22bn compared with twenty years ago—a cost of over £40 per year for every UK taxpayer.

This extra funding of prison places is equivalent to employing an additional 56,000 newly qualified nurses.

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