Commenting on today’s judgement by the Supreme Court in the cases of R v Jogee (Appellant) Ruddock (Appellant) v The Queen (Respondent)(Jamaica) concerning the application of the doctrine of joint enterprise, Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
“This judgement brings useful clarity to a complex area of law which has been the subject of increasing concern from the cross-party justice committee, criminal justice professionals, policy-makers, penal reformers and others. In some instances sentencing under joint enterprise has acted as a dragnet. For families, victims and offenders, this judgement should prompt more precise and proportionate decisions at each stage in the criminal justice process.
“The court's ruling that the law "took a wrong turning" will undoubtedly bring back to court cases where the original outcome was unjust. It is impossible to say how many cases this will affect but it is essential that resources are provided to allow appeals to be considered promptly.”
On Wednesday 10 February Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson MSP delivered a speech at a packed workshop in Edinburgh on Women and Criminal Justice in Scotland, jointly organised by the Prison Reform Trust and the Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector Forum, to review progress towards implementing the Angiolini Commission recommendations to reduce the unnecessary imprisonment of women in Scotland.
Yvonne Donald is Programme Manager for Scotland and is based in Edinburgh with Families Outside, who are jointly leading the work to support the change of direction in Scotland in favour of small custodial units and community-based provision.
Michael Matheson’s speech was delivered ahead of an announcement by the Scottish Government, that HMP Cornton Vale would close. This is to allow preparatory work to begin ahead of the construction of a new national prison, which will hold significantly fewer women.
Get the full story by clicking 'read more'
Deputy Director, Peter Dawson has written his thoughts on David Cameron's speech.
An honest reaction to David Cameron’s speech on prison reform? Well, more meat than might have been expected—and a really welcome rabbit out of the hat in ‘banning the box’ for all civil service appointments, allowing ex offenders to compete on fair terms for several hundred thousand jobs. The Prime Minister robustly dismissed the myths both that prison is too soft, and that mass imprisonment might reduce crime.
But some very big questions remain for Michael Gove to answer over the next few months.
Read the full article by clicking 'read more'
Commenting on David Cameron's call to rethink of the way the prison system in England and Wales treats pregnant women and mothers with babies, Juliet Lyon, Director of Prison Reform Trust, said:
"There is huge sense in making sure that women pay back for what they have done in the community rather than suffer harsh separation from babies and toddlers in prison and the long term damage that does."
The Prison Reform Trust recently published a discussion paper, Sentencing of Mothers, proposes a number of reforms to reduce the number of children separated from their mothers through imprisonment. The paper considers sentencing policy, process and practice through a review of case law and research evidence, talking to mothers in prison, and consultations with key individuals and organisations.
Trustees and staff are delighted to announce that James Timpson OBE is to chair the Prison Reform Trust from April 2016. James is Chief Executive of Timpson, a family business of 1400 shops across the UK and Ireland. Named last week as one of the Sunday Times’ Britain’s 500 most influential people, he is well known and respected for his leading role in training, mentoring and employing former prisoners—with 10% of Timpson colleagues recruited directly from prison.
Read the full story by clicking "read more".
James has also written a blog for the Huffington Post, which you can read by clicking here.
Charities and local businesses are struggling to fill volunteer and work placements as a result of strict rules on the temporary release of prisoners introduced by the former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.
The changes to release on temporary licence (ROTL) are squandering the goodwill of voluntary and private sector organisations and preventing prisoners from getting jobs and training in the community to help them turn their lives around, a joint briefing published today by Clinks and the Prison Reform Trust reveals.
Click 'read more' for the full story.
Commenting on the allegations made in the BBC Panorama programme broadcast on Monday 11 January 2016 regarding Medway Secure Training Centre (STC), Peter Dawson, Deputy Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
“The evidence Panorama has produced is profoundly shocking. Those who abuse and those who turn a blind eye must be brought to book. Police investigations need to be concluded quickly and prosecutions follow.
“The allegation that records are routinely falsified is also very serious, and the future of Medway must be considered by ministers. But the issue goes well beyond one secure training centre. The abuse of authority by staff is a constant and severe risk in any custodial institution. It is one of many reasons why locking up children must always be an absolute last resort. The safeguards in Secure Training Centres (STCs) and Young Offender Institutions are comprehensive in theory. But the fact that they have failed so terribly in this instance must make us ask whether those safeguards actually work.”
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust
Most people would say they know something about prison. They recognise the abiding austere image of the barred cell window or, in contrast, the holiday camp, beloved by the tabloid press, where old lags are reported to laze at taxpayers' expense. Yet, despite our zest for incarceration, few really know what life is like beyond the locked iron gates.
Prisons are our least visible, most beleaguered public service. At the close of the year, 70 of 117 prisons in England and Wales are overcrowded. As prison numbers soared to over 85,000 in 2015, drastic budget cuts saw staff numbers plummet. Serious assaults rose and purposeful activity fell to highest and lowest recorded levels respectively. The facts and figures about the state of our prisons and the state of people in them are carefully laid out and referenced in our Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile, Autumn 2015.
To read the full article click 'read more'.
On 17 December, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the revised UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners—the Nelson Mandela Rules.
Whilst not legally binding, the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted sixty years ago, provide guidelines for international and domestic law for citizens held in prisons and other forms of custody; as well as providing the framework for inspection and monitoring of prisoner treatment.
Click 'read more' to read the full story.
People held in segregation in prisons experience impoverished regimes with poor levels of purposeful activity. More than half suffer from three or more mental health problems, an in-depth research report published today (17 December 2015) by the Prison Reform Trust reveals. The report finds that segregation units and close supervision centres (CSCs) entail social isolation, inactivity, and increased control of prisoners—a combination proven to harm mental health and wellbeing.
Click 'read more' for the full story