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The government will is to spend £150million to create 500 new prison places for women

(16 Posts)
Iam64 Sun 28-Feb-21 18:04:11

Women in prison are mostly there because of drug and mental health problems. Two thirds of women in prison are survivors of domestic abuse, over half experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse in childhood. Women are likely to receive harsher sentences than men.
The current stats above are from an Observer article by Sonia Sodha. It’s no different than when I was involved with women in prison for over 40 years from 1978.
We don’t need to build new prisons. We need to repair the services that could help prevent prison sentences for women. We lock up too Kant men as well but the focus here is on women, mothers whose children miss out. The government believes that can be helped by having children have sleep overs in Hmp

Urmstongran Sun 28-Feb-21 18:13:26

From what I read, women do not receive harsher penalties than men.

Plus prison is often a ‘last resort’. Fines first, cautions, even probation seem to be the order of the day so if none of these act as a deterrent, what ought to be next?

Yes, in an ideal world, love the sinner hate the crime.

But in reality .... ??

paddyanne Sun 28-Feb-21 18:35:55

surely that money would be better spent on sorting the problems that make women end up in jail? We have a local councillor whose SD committed suicide after being jailed for drug abuse.Instead of plying addicts with methadone they should be helped get off all is possible but not while the government is literally supplying them with methadone that only keeps them dependent instead of weaning them off.there are people in my town who have been on methadone for 2 or 3 decades .
Its time to look for solutions not more prison accommodation!

Alegrias1 Sun 28-Feb-21 19:39:35

Iam64 and paddyanne I believe you have both made such good points.

Some years ago I attended a conference for women where one of the speakers was an ex-prisoner. I didn't think it would be very relevant for me, or related to anything I was interested in, but I stayed to listen anyway.

It changed my outlook. She explained how she had ended up in prison, with no excuses or self pity. There were details shared about domestic abuse, coercion and drug dependency. Not only her, but her parents and her children were punished for her mistakes and her situation. She explained how she was working to try to help stop other women ending up in the same situation she was in.

I realised that people, and women in particular, don't just end up in prison because they are the bad guys. Building more prisons is the easy answer, but I don't think its the right one.

Luckygirl Sun 28-Feb-21 19:44:10

People - both men and women - finish up in prison for a reason. I have an adopted relative who is in prison - she was the child of drug addicts and born addicted, is on the autistic spectrum and is not very bright at all. No proper help was offered during childhood, in spite of fighting hard for it, and now in prison. The other prisoners there are in the main mentally ill.

It is hard for governments to think long term; but keeping people put of prison is a long term project and an expensive one: proper ante-natal care, parenting classes, housing input, support for young families, an education system that encourages chances in life for the disadvantaged pupils, education that is relevant, well-funded mental health services...........and so on and on. All the things that have been starved of funds under austerity.

Clawing our way back from this mess to something resembling a caring civilized society will not happen overnight. But it will not happen at all - ever - if the proper investment is not made.

Investing in prison building is repairing the stable door whilst leaving it wide open.

So....they build more prison spaces.....and cannot get staff for them. Attracting staff into the service is a losing battle - they know that they are going into a system that is broken - that is full of people who need proper mental health care, proper rehabilitation, proper educational opportunities, proper work experience...........and so on.

Staff morale in prisons is at rock bottom - no wonder they are tempted to turn a blind eye to drugs getting into prisons, and indeed, as we know, profiting themselves from the drug trade in prison.

It is a mess; just a mess. And can only be improved by getting at the roots rather than trying to stick on a plaster.

welbeck Sun 28-Feb-21 19:46:27

but isn't it better to house the women who are in prison in better conditions, inc better facilities for family visits.
the holloway prison was closed some years ago, that must be several hundred places lost. and it had been rebuilt in 1970s, meant to be a modern approach, campus style, then.
but now that area has come up, gentrified, so much money to be made selling a large estate for housing development.

Deedaa Sun 28-Feb-21 19:52:46

Money should be spent on improving conditions in existing women's prisons but the important thing is to stop women ending up in prison. Poverty, lack of education and abuse, both physical and mental need to be addressed.

Iam64 Sun 28-Feb-21 20:52:51

It’s misuse of our money to use it in this way, rather than investing in services to support vulnerable women and their children.
Styal prison in Cheshire, is one of the few that has a mother and baby unit.
The devastation of probation, drug/alcohol, m.h and children’s services make it more likely families will break down, especially if mum is sent to prison. Most female offenders don’t pose the kind of risk to society that means they should be incarcerated.
That’s where our money should be invested, rather than building new prisons.

Galaxy Sun 28-Feb-21 21:14:06

I was reading an article about it today and the figures were 64% of women prisoners are in prison for shoplifting and non payment of TV license. It's just beyond words.

vegansrock Sun 28-Feb-21 21:44:49

Very few women are in prison for violent or sexual offences, so the public don’t need protecting from them. We don’t need private companies making a profit out of getting rid of experienced staff and running prisons on a shoestring. Resourcing mental health services, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, family support would prevent many from ending up behind bars.

mumofmadboys Mon 01-Mar-21 07:43:30

Methadone certainly has its place. I have worked with a Drug and Alcohol team. Once patients are off heroin and stabilised on methadone they are more stable, not injecting or smoking heroin therefore less risk of blood borne viruses and no longer having to commit crime to support their drug habit. Ideally methadone is slowly reduced to zero but for some people methadone maintenance may be the best they can achieve. This is often taken by supervised consumption at chemist shops to ensure none gets sold on the black market.

Iam64 Mon 01-Mar-21 08:14:53

Many of the babies born in prison are addicted. Methadone is prescribed to pregnant women because it’s less dangerous to their unborn child than suddenly stopping heroin use. Mumofmadboys is right, maintenance On a heroin substitute may be the best some people can manage. It should, IMO, be taken at the chemist to avoid it being sold to allow the patient to buy heroin.

paddyanne Mon 01-Mar-21 10:42:55

The problem is though how much effort is made to get people off methadone? Is the government and the pharmacy industry making a huge amount of money out of peoples misery because its EASIER to keep them on methadone than get them off their habit?
In Scotland our government wanted to open safe rooms where drugs can be taken under supervision,its been proven to cut the deaths, as Drugs issues aren't devolved it was refused by WM ! There are a couple of buses run by volunteers who are providing this service in an attempt to cut drug deaths here BUT every time they get in the bus they face arrest or fines and jail .

Anniebach Mon 01-Mar-21 11:40:04

Not only drugs but alcohol too

varian Mon 01-Mar-21 12:37:12

I think that penal policy, like so many other things in this country, needs a serious rethink. Too many people are in prison and prison does not work to prevent re-offending.

There are four reasons to imprison an offender - punishment, deterrence, rehabilitation and protection of the public.

In my view the only valid reason to imprison someone is to protect the public. The other three aims can be better achieved by other means.

Although alternative sentences in the community require costly resources, the cost is far less than incarceration and the outcome far better.

Although there are far more men than women in prison, the effect on families when a mother is imprisoned can be devastating and should be avoided by all means.

Iam64 Mon 01-Mar-21 13:00:40

The women I knew all claimed methadone was harder to come off than heroin. I don’t know as fortunately, I was never tempted by drugs. Paddyanne, my experience was drug workers may prescribe 80mgs on a programme reducing to maintenance of 25mg(or thereabouts).
One problem is that many who become dependent on drugs/alcohol have complex psychological difficulties. Their dependence usually began in an attempt to numb pain. Another significant difficulty is that Physical addiction may Be brought to an end but the underlying psychological problems are long lasting
Imprisonment for offences like no tv licence is crazy. We need to develop good alternatives to custody. A friend was governor at a prison where inmates went out to work every day. It was extremely rare for a man not to return after work. The reoffending rates were low. Other Northern European countries imprison far fewer than we do, with better outcomes