What's right for women offenders?

What's right for women offenders?

This time two years ago there was great optimism upon the publication of The Commission on Women's Offending. The Report highlighted that those women who end up in prison are amongst the most vulnerable members of our society. Their pasts are often marred with abuse and trauma, their presents are characterised by addiction, poverty and isolation. Further, patterns of female criminality are generally defined by low level offences and by in large they present little risk to the public. The demanding task faced by Government in wake of the report was how to transform women's penal policy to reflect these issues, how to make it effective and fair.

Two years on from the publication of the Report it is clear that some progress has been made in improving the lot of women offenders. However, there is widespread concern about the numbers of women still passing through our criminal justice system. Whilst there has been a drop in numbers, the number of women in prison continues to hover around the 400 mark. And again, whilst the proposed closure of Cornton Vale was universally welcomed, there is dismay at the plans to build a 350-bed prison in Inverclyde. It is clear that this is far from being the “smaller, specialist prison” recommended by the report.

This week, to mark this anniversary, Howard League Scotland have invited those who work with female offenders and their families to reflect on the current state of affairs. In addition to those practitioners, three women whom are resident in the 218 Project kindly gave us their time, sharing with us their stories and their positive experiences while in the 218, displaying that change can be possible when it operates on the principles of welfare and treatment, rather than incarceration. While we welcome progress, we must remain vigilant in highlighting the on-going difficulties experienced by those women in the Scottish criminal justice system.

Read coverage of these issues in today's Sunday Herald:
Women's prison population rises by 120%: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/crime-courts/womens-prison-population...
Locking up women not the answer: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/locking-women-up-not-answer...

Category Women
Tagged women