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People in prison need meaningful incentives which both motivate and allow them to take responsibility for their behaviour, according to a new report published by the Prison Reform Trust today.

The report, ‘What incentives work in prison?’ is the result of an extensive consultation exercise with over 1,250 people with experience of prison.

It presents the findings from an emerging network of current serving prisoners, ex-prisoners and connected organisations who want to share their expertise and experience with policy makers. The Prisoner Policy Network (PPN) aims to provide solutions to the big challenges currently facing our prisons, and a greater voice for prisoners in influencing the policies that affect them.

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Commenting on HM Inspectorate of Prisons' report on Children in Custody, published today, Peter Dawson, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“David Lammy’s 2017 report set out in forensic detail why people from ethnic minorities, including children, are over-represented in the prison population. It starts early, with decisions about exclusion from full time education, and builds through decisions about misbehaviour in care, stop and search, and whether to arrest, through choices about whether to prosecute or divert from the criminal justice system, about advocacy, plea and, eventually, sentencing. Black children have not benefited from the success youth offending teams have had in reducing the use of custody overall, and that is why we now have the shocking situation where over half of the boys in young offender institutions come from an ethnic minority. This is as urgent a case for Lammy's 'explain or reform' rule as any in the criminal justice system.

“The government promised a comprehensive and effective response to the Lammy Report. These numbers show that it is still a long way from delivering it.”

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We know that in-prison programmes can reduce dependency, and that the most ordered prisons have the busiest prisoners. Hope is a key ingredient of desistance. PRT director Peter Dawson explores how to address drug use in prisons in this article originally published in the Huffington Post.

Another week and another story about drugs in prison. It gets the usual five-minute examination—outrage that any drugs make it into a prison, bemusement that this is allowed to happen, an announcement of a new measure to stop it, and on to the next item.

Getting drugs out of our prisons is a critically important issue, and it deserves a better treatment.

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Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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The number of women recalled to prison has more than doubled since the introduction of government measures designed to support people on release, according to a new report published by the Prison Reform Trust.

The report, Broken Trust, reveals that over 1,700 women were recalled to prison in England and Wales during the last year, and that reforms which were intended to help are making things worse. Women are trapped in the justice system rather than being enabled to rebuild their lives.

The study, based on in-depth interviews conducted with 24 women, explores why increasing numbers of women are being returned to custody, and what the impact is on them and their families. It found that the threat of recall for women serving prison sentences of under 12 months is contributing to a breakdown in trust between them and the probation officers responsible for their supervision in the community.

The extension of mandatory post-custody supervision has disproportionately affected women. Recall numbers for men have risen by 22% since the changes were introduced, whilst for women they’ve grown by 131%.

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Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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The Prison Reform Trust has called for an urgent moratorium on the planned roll out of PAVA spray to prison officers in the adult male estate.

It warns that the roll out, which is due to begin in the New Year, is likely to do more harm than good and undermine the safety of prisoners and prison officers.

After the decision to roll out PAVA was announced in early October, the Prison Minister Rory Stewart said that PAVA would only be used in “exceptional circumstances” to protect staff from the threat or perceived threat of serious violence.

However, a new analysis of the pilot evaluation by PRT’s Director Peter Dawson, who is a former prison governor, shows that nearly two thirds (64%) of incidents in which PAVA spray was deployed by prison staff may have contravened the guidance for its use.

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Photo credit: Andy Aitchison

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