Commenting on today’s (9 November 2015) announcement that the Ministry of Justice will build nine new prisons, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:
“The Justice Secretary’s commitment to better conditions and more effective rehabilitation are welcome. Many of our prisons need to be shut down.
"But prison reform is about more than replacing old buildings. The crisis he faces now is with prisons that have deteriorated sharply as budgets have been slashed and staff numbers cut. Pressure on the system has to be relieved by revising the sentencing framework and curbing ever lengthening sentence lengths , investing now in diverting addicts and people with mental health needs into treatment and dealing with the forgotten thousands of prisoners still held long beyond terms set by courts.
"To live within his means, Michael Gove needs to close many more prisons than he builds. He can do that safely and the time has come to set out how.”
You can also read our response to the Spending Review by clicking here.
In July this year, the Harris Review published its report into self-inflicted deaths of 18–24 year olds in custody. Ahead of the publication of the government's response, the House of Lords will debate the review's findings for the first time today (29 October).
The Prison Reform Trust has produced a briefing for peers and interested parties which can be downloaded by clicking here. The briefing highlights the need for early diversion into treatment and support; the importance of considering maturity, rather than age; the role of specialist training for staff working with young adults; and building on the successful reduction in youth custody numbers and crime over the last seven years.
You can watch the debate live on the Parliament website by clicking here, it should begin in the late afternoon on 29 October.
Too many women, many of whom are mothers, are sent to prison every year to serve short sentences for non-violent crimes, often for a first offence, a new Prison Reform Trust (PRT) briefing reveals.
The briefing marks the launch of a drive by the Prison Reform Trust, supported by a £1.2 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund, to reduce the number of women who are sent to prison for minor non-violent offences.
Commenting on the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons annual report 2014-15, Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
“No mystery that violence, self-harm and suicide rise when you overcrowd prisons, reduce staff by almost one third, cut time out of cell and purposeful activity. The backdrop is a more punitive climate, increased injustice and uncertainty which have sucked hope out of the system for prisoners and staff. Solutions lie in good strong leadership from the new Secretary of State through to prison governors, a commitment to treat people in prison with humanity and respect and a determination to make prison an effective place of last resort.”
Read the report by clicking here
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.
Click 'read more' for the full story.
Commenting on Changing Prisons, Saving Lives: Report of the Independent Review into Self-inflicted Deaths in Custody of 18-24 year olds (The Harris Review), Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:
“Too many vulnerable young people are slipping through the net of mental health and welfare services and ending up behind bars. Very many of the tragic deaths described in this sobering report could have been prevented by thorough assessment and intervention at an earlier stage in these young peoples’ lives. Time and again this is what bereaved families say after struggling for years to get the help they need. The stark recommendation for the Minister to telephone families when a loved one has died in custody will come as a shock but it may well be that that only when this conversation takes place that change will result and true accountability be achieved.
Lord Laming chairs independent review into links between care and custody
An independent review of children in care, chaired by the crossbench peer Lord Laming and established by the Prison Reform Trust, is launched today to consider the reasons behind, and how best to tackle, the over representation of looked after children in the criminal justice system in England and Wales.
Following a number of requests, the deadline for written submissions to the care review has been extended until 5.00pm on Tuesday 25 August 2015.
Progress in reducing chronic levels of overcrowding and improving treatment and conditions in prisons has been set back by the reluctance of politicians “to explain to the public the limited improvements that can be achieved by greater reliance on more and longer imprisonment,” Lord Woolf, chair of the Prison Reform Trust, said at a lecture at Inner Temple Hall this evening (1 April).
Lord Woolf chaired the original inquiry into the Strangeways riot which occurred 25 years ago today on 1 April 1990.
You can either listen to or read a copy of his full speech by clicking 'read more'.