Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Most women 'should not be jailed'

Women make up 6% of the prison population in England and Wales

Imprisonment of women should be "virtually abolished", a prison reform group has said.

The Howard League for Penal Reform said jail should be reserved for women who commit serious or violent offences and remain a danger to the public.

Fewer than 10% of the 4,400 women currently locked up in England and Wales would receive jail terms if such a policy were introduced.

The number of female inmates has almost trebled since 1993.

Howard League chief Frances Crook will present the policy paper to the United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention in Bangkok next month.

"Women are being sent to prison in unacceptable numbers and are suffering disproportionately when they are inside," she said.

"Even the Government recognises that this is not a consequence of increased crime amongst women but rather greater severity by the courts.

"The Howard League is recommending that prison custody for women should be virtually abolished so that only those women who are convicted of serious and violent offences and who represent a continuing danger to the public should be held in custody.

"For other women offenders, community-based interventions that make amends for the wrong done and encourage women to change their lives offer the best change of creating a safer society."

The number of women being sent to jail - many on short sentences - increased to 13,380 in 2002, a leap of about a third compared with just three years earlier.

By The Howard League posted 9 March 05


Children of Imprisoned Mothers
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Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO)
On-line Resources on Women in Prison

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