Angiolini Commission on Women Offenders

Howard League Scotland welcomed the publication of the Commission on Women Offenders final report. The detailed report exposes how women’s experiences in prison differ significantly from those of male prisoners; illustrating that those women who receive a custodial sentence have complex needs and troubled pasts. Often they have experienced extreme deprivation, suffer from high rates of mental health problems and are often repeat victims of sexual and physical violence. As such, these women are among Scotland’s most vulnerable citizens.
Some key numbers:
• Under 2% of convicted women in 2010/2011 involved serious violence
• 75% of custodial sentences imposed on women are for 6 months or less
• 5%, percentage of women in overall 2010/2011 Scottish prison population , compared with 3.5% in 2000
• Only 30% of women on remand go on to receive a custodial sentence
• Women’s imprisonment in Scotland increased at a greater rate than male imprisonment.
• 80% of women in Cornton Vale are reported to have mental health difficulties
• Women are 10 times more likely to self-harm than male prisoners
• 35% indicated they had committed the offence to gain money for drugs (compared with 16% of men prisoners)
• 39% of women had not worked in the year prior to the offence
• 23% had not been employed for the previous 5 years
• 71% of women in prison in Scotland have no qualifications

Read the full report here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0039/00391828.pdf

SCCJR: Female Imprisonment in Scotland

This latest report from the SCCJR outlines the key issues regarding women’s penal policy in Scotland. In particular, the report highlights why the characteristics of women’s offending differs so considerably from men’s. Women, they write ‘are typically convicted of relatively minor crimes that pose little public risk and, because they are usually convicted of offences that are less serious than those committed by men’. The report also addresses a troubling rise in the number of women sent to prison in Scotland in the last 15 years which has not been mirrored by a corresponding increase in women’s offending. The report’s main aim then is to explore the main causal factors driving the increased number of women incarcerated in Scotland.

Read the report here: Understanding the Drivers of Female Imprisonment in Scotland 


Women in Prison in Scotland, SCCCJ Report

A briefing paper from the SCCCJ, Women in Prison in Scotland: An Unmet Commitment, opens with a challenging comparison between the aspirational and reformative political rhetoric on women in prison on one hand, and on the other, the steady annual increase of women incarcerated in Scotland. The increased use of custodial sentences for women in Scotland is perplexing because it does not reflect increases in serious levels of criminality. Instead, women tend to be cycled through prison on short sentences. Short sentences offer little time to engage in rehabilitative programmes. Instead, short sentences serve to sever important personal bonds links with communities and families as well as economic responsibilities to work, meaning that many women lose their homes while in prison. 

The report provides a useful overview of the characteristics of women in prison, statistically illustrating their destructive mental health and addiction problems and their lack of social capital in general.









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