Dr Ruth Mann

27/04/2020 12:00:00

We were very sad to hear that Dr Ruth Mann passed away over the weekend. Ruth has been a friend to PRT for many years and many of us knew her well. It is unusual for someone to be able to combine prison research at the highest standards with a positive, humane sensibility that inspires hope. But that rare combination seemed to come naturally to Ruth. Her work consistently championed the supportive, decent and life-changing dimensions of prisons that bring out the best in staff and prisoners. She was a pioneer in her vision of a rehabilitative culture, seeing the potential in people to create caring and purposeful institutions. Anyone who knew or worked with Ruth could only be improved and uplifted by the experience. Her legacy is immense, and we will treasure it.

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As the coordinator of Lancashire Women’s Enhanced Through The Gate (ETTG) services for women within HMP/YOI Styal, Therese Sanders knows that release from prison can be a very stressful time, both for those being released and their families. In normal times, Therese and her probation colleagues, who are all based within the prison, meet with women 12 weeks prior to their release to prepare them for settling back into the community and to address any specific needs they may have. But these are not normal times.

PRT associate Sarah Beresford examines the lack of information and communication about early release, and the impact it is having on people leaving prison, their families, and the organisations supporting them.

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The two leading prison reform groups in the country have today (Friday 17 April) sent a formal letter before claim to the Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, over the government’s failure to respond effectively to the coronavirus pandemic in prisons.

The letter, from lawyers acting for the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Reform Trust, gives details of a proposed application for judicial review in relation to the Secretary of State’s response “to the obvious need…to substantially reduce the prison population to save lives and avoid a public health catastrophe both within prisons and beyond”.

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Prison Reform Trust director Peter Dawson has submitted evidence to the House of Commons Justice Committee today, to assist in its role in scrutinising the government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

PRT will continue to regularly share evidence with the committee, drawn from our contact with people in prison and those working to support them during this exceptionally difficult time.

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Prison Reform Trust director Peter Dawson has submitted evidence to the House of Commons Justice Committee today, to assist in its role in scrutinising the government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

PRT will continue to regularly share evidence with the committee, drawn from our contact with people in prison and those working to support them during this exceptionally difficult time.

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The two leading prison reform groups in the country have today (Wednesday 8 April) written to the government again, urging ministers to move further and faster to reduce the prison population and avoid “an intolerable human cost in terms of the lives of both staff and prisoners”.

It is the second time this month that the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Reform Trust have written to the Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, about the outbreak of coronavirus in prisons in England and Wales.

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As we all adapt to the increased restrictions on our daily lives in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us have turned to technology to help keep in touch with our loved ones at a time of enforced separation.

For people with a loved one in prison, this is an especially challenging time, with all prisons now closed to visitors. Keeping in touch is more important than ever in these circumstances, and the government has issued guidance to help families and friends to maintain their relationships during the lockdown.

Following discussion with families who currently have a loved one in prison, Prison Reform Trust associate Sarah Beresford reflects on the role that allowing greater use of virtual visits could play in helping people in prison and their loved ones through the Covid-19 pandemic, and beyond.

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Commenting on today’s announcement (4 April) that some prisoners are to be temporarily released as part of efforts to tackle Covid-19, Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust said:

“This is a welcome and substantial step in the right direction. Exceptional times require exceptional measures, and the public should be reassured that in this instance their protection is better served by carefully releasing some prisoners a few weeks early than by keeping them in. Prisons have never faced an emergency of this complexity or duration, and further measures will be needed in the weeks ahead. But this is a start, and the Lord Chancellor deserves credit for it.”

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The two leading prison reform groups in the country have called on the government to take further action to reduce the prison population in order to protect prisoners, staff and the wider public from coronavirus.

In an open letter, the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Reform Trust have warned the Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, that failure to act immediately could lead to loss of life on an unprecedented scale.

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In the light of government guidance and the current situation generally, PRT is running a reduced service for the time being.

If you know of someone in prison in need of advice and information then click here for details on how they can get in contact with us.

Media inquiries during office hours should be directed to alex.hewson@prisonreformtrust.org.uk. Out of hours media inquiries should be made by phone to 0207 689 7746 or 0207 689 7732.

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