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A prison system built to hold young men is struggling to cope with the rapidly growing numbers of old, sick and disabled people behind bars, a new Prison Reform Trust report, supported by the Bromley Trust, reveals.

The report, launched at HMP Brixton today (Tuesday 28 October), comes the day before the Prisons Minister Andrew Selous MP is due to give evidence on older prisoners to the Justice Select Committee.

People aged 60 and over and those aged 50–59 are the first and second fastest growing age groups in the prison population. Between 2002 and 2014 there was an increase of 146% and 122% in the number of prisoners held in those age groups respectively. On 31 March 2014 there were 102 people in prison aged 80 and over. Five people in prison were 90 or older.

Ever-lengthening sentences mean people in prison are growing old and frail with high rates of unmet social care and support needs. Two in five (37%) of those over the age of 50 in prison have a disability.

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A new report by the Prison Reform Trust, supported by the Bromley Trust, shows a system under significant strain with fewer staff, worsening safety, and fewer opportunities for rehabilitation.

Unprecedented cuts to the Ministry of Justice budget, due to total £2.4bn by 2015-16 , are creating a race to the bottom in prison conditions and the warehousing of people in super-sized jails, according to the Prison Reform Trust’s new report Prison: the facts.

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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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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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Nearly half of people in prison in England and Wales could be warehoused in 1,000-plus supersized jails under government plans to transform the prison estate, the latest edition of the Prison Reform Trust's Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile reveals.

A shorter summary version, Prison: The Facts, is available for iPad and iPhone on the App Store and for Android devices via Google Play.

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As the Justice Secretary announces 70 resettlement prisons, briefing finds budget cuts and overcrowding are leading to less purposeful activity, reduced regimes and more time in cell.

Massive cuts in prison staff and budgets are placing overcrowded prisons in England and Wales under unprecedented strain and undermining government plans to transform rehabilitation, the Prison Reform Trust's new iPad app Prison: The Facts, Bromley Briefings Online, reveals.

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Soroptimist (UK), in partnership with the Prison Reform Trust, will today (Wednesday 15th May 2013) launch an action pack at a reception at the Pierhead in Cardiff to support their initiative to reduce women’s imprisonment across the UK.

More than eight out of ten of sentenced women entering prison have been convicted of non-violent offences. Many have young children. Many have themselves been the victims of serious crime, including domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape.

 

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Commenting on the government’s plans announced in the Queen’s Speech to extend probation supervision to short sentenced prisoners, Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“According to government figures, community sentences are better at cutting reoffending than a short spell behind bars. So, rather than use prison as a gateway to rehabilitation for over 50,000 petty offenders, the Justice Secretary should ensure that cost effective, robust community penalties are available to all courts in England and Wales.

“For those whose offending is so serious to warrant up to a year in custody, then supervision, support and drug treatment on release make some sense. There is a downside: a year of demands and an inflexible approach to breach of license conditions could refill our prisons and spin people through the revolving door of prison and crime.”

“Payment by results is untried and untested in the criminal justice system. Reform should be properly thought through and based on evidence of what works. The government should build on best practice rather than risk fragmenting the probation service and undermining the vital role played by small voluntary organisations in the delivery of services for vulnerable offenders. Is it wise to widen the ambit of the criminal justice industry when many of the solutions to crime lie in prevention, housing, employment, mental health and social care and treatment for addictions?”


Click read more to read our submissions to the Transforming Rehabilitation consultation.


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