Magazine article Public Finance

Call to Close Women's Jails

Magazine article Public Finance

Call to Close Women's Jails

Article excerpt

Ministers must close female prisons and replace them with community-based units to prevent the criminal justice system becoming a 'social dustbin' for vulnerable and abused women, penal experts have said.

Lobby groups such as the Prison Reform Trust and Smart Justice this week backed the findings of a Home Office-commissioned study into women's prisons published on March 13.

The report by Baroness Corston called for sites to be shut down amid concerns that female inmates' lives were often ruined by imprisonment following minor offences. Around 65% serve less than six months for non-violent offences.

Corston recommended a ten-year reform programme, involving numerous government departments, to put more women into smaller, secure community units near their families.

Experts believe that large and impersonal sites have contributed to high suicide and self-harm rates among female inmates, who often enter prison with drug, alcohol or mental health problems. …

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