Women Offenders Need Help .. Not the Hard Cell; Prison Reform Campaigner Calls for Cash to Help Females Break Cycle of Crime

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), June 15, 2016 | Go to article overview

Women Offenders Need Help .. Not the Hard Cell; Prison Reform Campaigner Calls for Cash to Help Females Break Cycle of Crime


Byline: EDITED BY SALLY MCLEAN paul english p.english@dailyrecord.co.uk

MORE female offenders should be rehabilitated in the community rather than sent to jail, according to a leading campaigner for prison reform in Scotland.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC says more needs to be done to finance alternative programmes aimed at helping women break out of negative lifestyle cycles, improve self-worth and empowerment.

She is among several voices to feature in a BBC Scotland documentary tonight, which calls for a broader approach to new plans for the sentencing of women are made.

The programme, Women Prisoners; Throw Away The Key?, features contributions from Rhona Hotchkiss, Governor of the country's only all-women prison and others campaigning for change, in a 30 minute investigation into sentencing reform plans.

Lady Kennedy said: "So many women shouldn't be in prison at all. We can't say that's all down to the judges, because many of them feel they have very limited options as to what they can do with women who have serious social problems. Proper money has to be put into alternatives to prison. I don't think there's enough being done on that.

"I saw one residential project in the centre of Glasgow where 12 women can stay, they don't get locked up, can go out and do their shopping, see their kids and, while there, they work on an intensive programme of rehabilitation. Folk end up becoming addicts because of the way they feel about themselves.

"They feel they have no worth, often because something horrible has happened to them and they end up in the system. By reducing the resources we put into community social work and support systems, the more we'll have the problem moved to the next generation as women with low self worth and into a cycle of drink, drugs and babies come out into horrible circumstances.

"We have pulled money out of underpinning the right kind of skilled social community support over the last 20 to 30 years."

They feel have worth because something horrible happened " Plans to build a PS75million women's prison in Greenock were scrapped last year by justice secretary Michael Matheson, afte recommendations from former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini that female offending should be tackled with small regional units.

Instead, there are plans to introduce a number of smaller custodial community units around the country, with a smaller jail at Cornton Vale. …

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