Tag Archives: prison

Scottish Lib Dems highlight “destructive” short prison sentences for pregnant women

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has today revealed that dozens of pregnant women have served destructive short-term prison sentences in the last five years. He says that this einforces the need for the Scottish Government to press ahead with a presumption against jail sentences of less than 12 months.

He uncovered figures under freedom of information which reveal that since 2013 there have been 104 pregnant women in prison, of whom 31 gave birth while serving their sentence. Of these 104 women, 37 were given sentences of less than 12 months.

In 2012, the Scottish Government commissioned a report from former Prosecutor Dame Elish Angiolini highlighted the negative impact of custodial sentences on the children of offenders, something that affects many more women than men:

More women offenders have dependant children than men and only a small proportion (17 per cent) of children with mothers in prison live with their fathers while their mother is incarcerated. Approximately 30 per cent of children with imprisoned parents will develop physical and mental health problems, and there is a higher risk of these children themselves also ending up in prison.

Liam said:

The fact that 37 expectant mothers have been given destructive short-term sentences in recent years should have alarm bells ringing.

All the evidence shows that short-term sentences don’t work and are less effective than robust community-based disposals in reducing reoffending. Rates of reoffending amongst those who have served short stints in prison are sky high. That is why Scottish Liberal Democrats have consistently urged the Scottish Government to introduce a presumption against sentences of less than 12 months, something Ministers now accept would be a positive step.

If in the process it means more pregnant women pay for any crime they have committed through robust means short of prison then that has to be in everyone’s interests.

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Hate crime and prison

 

Everyone should be appalled at the rise in hate crime since the BREXIT result and agree that the campaigns by the EXIT campaigners in some way made respectable the attitudes and behaviours of the perpetrators.

Under the circumstances it is understandable that many are calling for tough or mandatory prison sentences for hate crime even where the intensity of an individual act may relatively minor. (All hate crime has an impact and should never be regarded as minor but I am trying to differentiate scale). But prison may not be the answer especially for young offenders with a first offence.

In prison there will be no form of programme to re-educate people away from hate crime. No such programmes in prison exist. Even if they did they would be reserved for the most high risk and serious offenders. The best someone could expect if imprisoned for hate crime would be an anger management course which may be useful but does not deal with the issue. At best a perpetrator will come out of prison with the same mindset with which they went in.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 18 Comments

Opinion: A life discarded

 

Mr K. had arrived on the wing at Brixton Prison on the Friday. By Monday morning he was dead. He had managed to hang himself using a sheet tied around the window bars. No-one knew what time he had died. It would be interesting to know whether the inquest showed up the notoriously lax attitude of Brixton night duty staff to night time cell checks.

No-one really remembered speaking to him and all anyone amongst the prisoners could really say was that he had arrived on Friday, was short and slight, had an Irish accent and kept himself to himself. He had stayed in his cell – one of the few on the wing for single occupancy – except for when he collected his food.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

Opinion: Bill – A Factual Postscript

Last week you published a post from me about an elderly prisoner called Bill. In a piece restricted to 500 words some things inevitably get left out which some readers need for clarity.

To help Stuart – Mary Reid’s helpful comment pointed out that the YOI element at Littlehey opened in 2010. It closed in 2014 to allow the prison to become a full adult prison. Unfortunately the Ministry of Justice website on Littlehey was last updated in April 2013 so doesn’t help. However I am sure a phone call to the prison on 01480 335 000 will elicit the information …

Posted in Op-eds | 1 Comment

Opinion: Bill

He was cold. His shivering was so intense it was more like a palsy. The surgery receptionist ignored his growing distress. He had been sitting in the freezing cold waiting room for over two hours. The door stood open letting in a draught that cut through his thin clothes. He was wearing three layers – all the clothes he had.

Bill was 88 years old with sores on his legs and needing to get his dressings changed. Scandalous that in any NHS run medical facility an elderly and vulnerable person should be treated in this way. In a GP surgery or …

Posted in Op-eds | 7 Comments

Julian Huppert MP writes…A credible alternative to prison has always been a Liberal Democrat priority

For decades British Governments have been locking up criminals for 12 months or less, to watch them reoffend straight after they leave prison. Worse than that, the policy is costly, and holds little public confidence.

But when you look at how we treat women offenders, the situation is even worse.

Almost half of women serving 12 months or less will reoffend within the next year. And of all women in prison, 6 in 10 are there for six months or less; the vast majority of whom have committed non-violent offences. The last Government’s response was to increase the female prison …

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