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PRT is delighted to announce that its former director Juliet Lyon this evening received the highly prestigious lifetime achievement award from the Longford Trust. The citation for the award reads: In a lifetime of commitment to those on the margins of society—in mental health, managing the Richmond Fellowship therapeutic communities; in education as head of a psychiatric unit school; and from 2000 until 2016 as director of the Prison Reform Trust—Juliet Lyon has always combined passion with powerful advocacy, rooted in a peerless command of her subject and hands-on experience.  A natural leader, and an innovative, irresistible campaigner, she has played a crucial role in improving the lives of many, most notably female and young offenders. She is, in the world of prison reform, a national treasure.

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The Chairman of the Parole Board, the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the former Justice Secretary Michael Gove have all separately called on the government to act to speed up the release of thousands of people serving the discredited indeterminate sentence of imprisonment for public protection (IPP).
 
Nick Hardwick, the chairman of the Parole Board, recommended privately to both Michael Gove and the current Justice Secretary Liz Truss in July that they consider introducing legislation to convert the sentences of 634 IPP prisoners with original tariffs of less than two years into determinate sentences.
 
In his confidential advice, revealed in a freedom of information request made by the Prison Reform Trust and covered by BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Nick Hardwick expresses “real concerns” about the group of short tariff IPP prisoners who “but for their IPP would have been released many years ago”.

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The former Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove delivered the 15th Longford Lecture on Wednesday November 16th, 2016 at 6.30pm in the Assembly Hall of Church House, Great Smith Street, London. 

The lecture is organised by the Longford Trust in association with the Prison Reform Trust and is kindly sponsored by Unilink Technology Services.

Click 'read more' to read a copy of the speech.

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Commenting on the publication of an open letter today (16 November) by Rt Hon. David Lammy MP to update the Prime Minister on his review's emerging findings, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, Peter Dawson said:

"Theresa May was right to highlight in her first speech as Prime Minister that being black means harsher treatment in the criminal justice system. David Lammy's interim report to her sheds important new light on exactly where that unfairness occurs. The statistical evidence is shocking. But it also shows where the review can now concentrate its investigation to understand why discrimination happens and what needs to be done to stop it."

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Commenting on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons thematic report on Children in Custody 2015–16: an analysis of 12 to 18-year-olds’ perceptions of their experience in secure training centres and young offender institutions, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“This worrying annual survey shows why the government was right to ask Charlie Taylor to conduct a fundamental review of how we look after the children we still send to prison. But it also shows why a response to that report, completed 5 months ago, is badly overdue as the situation gets worse not better. Investing in these young damaged lives can only pay dividends for the future - the warning signs of further delay could not be any clearer.”

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Ahead of today's government announcement on prison reform, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: 

“The time for aspirational rhetoric on prisons is over. We expect a White Paper that promises concrete standards, approved by Parliament, against which the Government must deliver, and a boost in resources to make that possible. All of that will be welcome. But the legacy is twenty five years of political failure to grip prison inflation and chronic overcrowding. Liz Truss will have to overturn that inheritance, and urgently reduce the demand for prison places, to make her plan work.”

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The prison population in England and Wales has gone over 85,000 after an increase of more than 1,000 people from the beginning of September, statistics published today (28 October) by the Ministry of Justice reveal. 

The number of people in prison now stands at 85,108. On 2 September the figure was 84,066.

While prison numbers tend to fluctuate during the course of a year, the rapid increase is unusual, and will have placed additional pressure on an already overcrowded and overstretched prison system experiencing record levels of violence, self-harm, and self-inflicted deaths.

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Commenting on the publication of today's Ministry of Justice Safety in Custody statistics, Mark Day, head of policy and communications at the Prison Reform Trust said:

"Today’s figures reveal a hidden emergency unfolding in our prison system. For the past few years, government statistics have recorded month on month record levels of violence, self harm and self inflicted deaths. This cannot be allowed to become the new normal. The government’s forthcoming prison safety and reform plan must get to grips with a dangerously deteriorating situation. The lives of people who live and work in prison depend on it."

Click here for a summary of the report's findings.

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Local authorities have a crucial role to play in helping women get the support they need to stay out of trouble, according to a joint report by the Prison Reform Trust, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, the Centre for Mental Health, and the Education Policy Institute.

Local councils know and understand their communities. Their leadership can provide strategic oversight, and collaboration and coordination with other agencies to deliver necessary support to women in contact with, or on the edges of the criminal justice system. Existing partnerships bring together local organisations that have the means of transforming the lives of women and their families. This approach has the potential to make financial savings for local councils and improve outcomes for women and the wider community.

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Today (26 October) the House of Commons Justice Committee published its report on the treatment of young adults in the criminal justice system. The committee agreed that there is a strong case for a distinct approach to this group, one which takes account of levels of maturity and brain development at all stages of the criminal justice system, from arrest through to sentencing, community and custodial provision and resettlement.

The Prison Reform Trust is a member of the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) Alliance. You can read PRT’s submission to the committee's inquiry by clicking here.

Commenting on the report, Alex Hewson, policy and communications officer at the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“A justice system which throws young people off a cliff edge on their 18th birthday, and expects them to fend for themselves in the adult system when they are still maturing and often vulnerable, is not one that is set up to deliver for offenders, victims or local communities. This report from the cross-party justice committee offers a clear endorsement of the importance of taking account of maturity at all stages of the criminal justice system and a comprehensive blueprint for reform.”

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