CAPPTIVE, a collaborative project by the Prison Reform Trust and our Prisoner Policy Network, aims to describe life in prison under the Covid-19 pandemic.

Drawn from responses from 85 prisons this, the third CAPPTIVE briefing, examines the prison service’s response, precautions, routine health care, disabilities, well-being, mental health, self-harm, and what helped during the pandemic.

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'No life, no freedom, no future', written by Dr Kimmett Edgar, Dr Mia Harris and Russell Webster and kindly supported by the Persula Foundation and the Kowitz Family Foundation (UK) explores the experiences of people recalled whilst serving IPP sentences.

Its findings are based on new data provided by HM Prison and Probation Service on recalls and re-releases of people serving IPPs; interviews with 31 recalled IPP prisoners; and interviews and focus groups with a range of criminal justice practitioners including probation, parole and prison lawyers.

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Prisons, by their very nature, are likely to be associated with sadness, discomfort and deprivations. But with self-inflicted deaths over six times more likely to occur amongst prisoners than in the general population, it is a sad and troubling fact that they remain an enduring part of prison life.

By exploring distress in prison from the perspective of those who live there, and drawing from a range of other sources including television documentaries and podcasts, newspaper articles, academic and grey literature, this report focuses on how aspects of the prison environment can interact with well-known self-harm and suicide risk factors to either reduce or increase risk further.

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Our second CAPPTIVE briefing examines the impact of measures introduced to minimise the risk of infection and prevent deaths. Faced in March 2020 with the possibility of many thousands of deaths in prison from Covid-19, ministers took a decision to try to contain the spread of disease without the significant reduction in prisoner numbers that the government’s health experts recommended. Whilst thankfully limiting the number of deaths amongst prisoners and staff, this briefing shows some of the price of that success. It is a price that prisoners have been paying, and will continue to pay for months and years to come.

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