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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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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.

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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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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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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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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.

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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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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.

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Bah humbug behind bars

20/12/2013 00:01:00

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.

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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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