Tag Archives: prison reform

How transgender people are treated in prison

One of the questions that has been voiced on Twitter recently in the debate about trans women has been the case of the Soham murderer, who in 2002 as Ian Huntley murdered two ten year old school girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman and was jailed for 40 years. A number of tabloid newspapers have reported that Huntley is transitioning, and wishes to be called Lian. Incidentally, the prison service has said several times that Huntley is not planning transition.

There are those who say that giving any trans prisoner with a violent past the rights to move to a woman’s prison and mix with women puts women prisoners at risk. They have even tried to say that the Liberal Democrats in supporting trans rights, do not care about women’s rights in prison.

I see that Sal Brinton has written about the Liberal Democrat policies on trans matters, and I wanted to write about the formal process that the National Offender Management Service insists on for the care and management of transgender offenders, designed to both recognise the rights of trans people in prison, but also ensuring the safety of other prisoners and staff. Their policy can be found here,

Pages 12-13 sets out the protocol relating to sentenced prisoners. It says that there will be an initial Local Transgender Case Board after a prisoner declares, and can provide evidence, that they are living in the gender the offender identifies with, and will, as appropriate, make arrangements for transfers to other parts of the prison estate.

With prisoners who might also be deemed a risk to other prisoners, there then has to be a Complex Case Board called for Transgender Offenders, which will look at the complexity and specifically assess the risk of harm prior to making decisions about prison location. The views of the offender must be presented to the Board, but there are a number of healthcare and psychology leads there to ensure that any move to a women’s prison would be safe.

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The day the arts took a swipe at cuts…

On March 31st my colleague Alex and I went to see the play “The day the arts took a swipe at cuts”.

My friend Alex and I actually went to see the play “Victim” which is currently playing at the Kings Head Theatre in Islington. We did this after being contacted through our roles with Liberal Democrats for Prison Reform and a brilliantly hard-hitting show it was too.

“Victim” is a play that perfectly demonstrates how broken our prison system is. It tells the harrowing tale of the power struggle between the inmate and the guard, and the roles they play in a system that has been brutally hit by harsher-than-necessary cuts. This blog is not so much a review (such a phenomenal performance has no shortage of positive reviews) as it is a cry out for support and an end to cuts in this frankly broken prison system.

The Prison Reform organisation, Liberal Democrats for Prison Reform have, since our launch, been looking for a way to exemplify how much reform is needed to our prison system to make it fit for the 21st century. This play does this in a way no article or speech has managed to do yet. Fydor Dovtoyevsky once said, “the degree of civilisation in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” I must say that the fact that this theatre company wrote and performed this moving piece is testament to the scale of the challenge we as a country face.

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Introducing Liberal Democrats for Prison Reform

Prisoners get a bad rap. They get pushed around by politicians because it is politically popular to beat them with a rolled-up copy of the daily.

Just because this happens doesn’t mean it is okay. In fact, it is a fundamental abdication of our moral duty not to stand up for the human rights of our fellow human beings.

As such I been conducting some informal polling within the Young Liberals and by a landslide of 92% in favour, 8% opposing, they backed prisoner voting. Further questioning of the group indicated a 96% …

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Julian Huppert writes… Fixing the women’s prison estate

After only  a couple of weeks with women offenders under his remit, Liberal Democrat Lord and Minister in the Ministry of Justice, Tom McNally has this morning announced what may be a step-change in the way Britain handles the women’s estate.

Six years after the Corston review, which bemoaned the lack of a tailored and differentiated approach to dealing with female offenders, we are finally seeing her recommendations being implemented. Corston called for an approach that recognised and reacted to the needs of women in the prison estate. Following on from this our Conference called for a radical change in the way women were handled throughout the criminal justice system and in Government we have delivered on your demands.

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After prison

jonathanaitkenA former journalist, who rose through the political ranks to become a cabinet minister, resigns in the midst of a scandal of his own making, strenuously denies the allegations but is convicted of perverting the course of justice and goes to prison, with his political career and reputation destroyed.

That was the tragedy of  Jonathan Aitken, who has been doing the media rounds in the last 24 hours.

I want to tell his story – it happened some years ago so some readers may not remember – because it is a tale of redemption.

The incident that led to his downfall took place in when he was Minister of State for Defence Procurement, but it only came to light in 1995 after he had been promoted to Chief Secretary to the Treasury. He accepted hospitality, in the form of nights at the Ritz in Paris, from a Saudi businessman.   The Guardian unearthed the story and Granada investigated it further in World in Action documentary.

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Opinion: The future of Indeterminate Sentences – and why liberals should support them

The number of prisoners serving indeterminate sentences has rocketed since the 2003 Criminal Justice Act introduced the IPP (Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection). Within four years of its introduction, over 5,000 such sentences had been passed despite original government projections of just a few hundred.

To the horror of many liberals less than 2% of such prisoners have ever acheived parole and hardly any gained release at expiry of their sentence tariff. Most MPs will be familar with cases of constituents where IPP prisoners have served well in excess of their tariff and yet appear to have little prospect of release.

As a result many liberals will applaud the government announcement this week that the IPP sentence is to be replaced by a regime of Determinate Sentences and a “two strike” automatic life sentence reserved for the most serious offences.

At first sight this appears to be a victory for justice and a step towards reducing prison numbers. But the reality is less straightforward, and although the IPP has flaws these can be reformed — and if the sentence is made fit for purpose it has many advantages over the proposed reforms.

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Labour prisons expert attacks party for “shameful” stance on penal reform

Frances Crook, a Labour member and Director of the Howard League for Penal reform, has launched a stinging attack on the Labour Party’s approach to penal reform calling recent moves by Shadow Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan “shameful”.

Writing on the Howard League’s website, Frances Crook said,

I was so angry with the Labour Party I found it hard to put into words. For the record I am a Labour Party member and was a Labour Party councillor and I have been a huge admirer of Sadiq Khan, a man who has up until recently had an exceptional record

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Lord Mike German’s maiden speech

In recent weeks, LDV has been bringing its readers copies of our new MPs’ first words in the House of Commons, so that we can read what is being said and respond. You can find all of the speeches in this category with this link. Alert LDV reader and bureaucratic blogger Mark Valladares, himself a husband to a Lib Dem Peer, our party’s president Ros Scott, has drawn to our attention that we have more new parliamentarians in the Other Place, who are also making maiden speeches. Earlier today we brought you the words of Baroness

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Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece’s maiden speech

In recent weeks, LDV has been bringing its readers copies of our new MPs’ first words in the House of Commons, so that we can read what is being said and respond. You can find all of the speeches in this category with this link. Alert LDV reader and bureaucratic blogger Mark Valladares, himself a husband to a Lib Dem Peer, our party’s president Ros Scott, has drawn to our attention that we have more new parliamentarians in the Other Place, who are also making maiden speeches. So today, Baroness Hussein-Ece’s words are reproduced below.

Baroness Hussein-Ece: My …

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