Community penalties are now outperforming short prison sentences, according to statistics released today from the latest edition of the Prison Reform Trust’s Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile. If government succeeds in reforming the justice system, building on the success of community measures including diversion into health treatment where appropriate, and holding prison numbers to an unavoidable minimum, it could deliver on its promise of a “rehabilitation revolution”.
The Factfile indicates that prisons will struggle to cut crime and further reduce reoffending unless the massive growth in the prison population is checked to enable governors and staff to work on the rehabilitation of serious and violent offenders.
The Factfile was sent to members of the All-Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group ahead of the Justice Bill's second reading. Writing on politics.co.uk Juliet Lyon, Director Prison Reform Trust, warned that new clauses and more mandatory sentences, not subject to consultation, and a harsher tone could destabilise a carefully crafted bill by further inflating prison numbers.
Read more here.
Following its launch at HMP High Down in May, we are now spreading the word to prisons across England and Wales about the Time Well Spent report findings, recommendations and practical guidance on volunteering and active citizenship in prisons. On 27th June, report co-author Kathy Biggar was welcomed by students from media and citizenship classes at women’s prison HMP Downview. There was a lively discussion between women and staff about the meaning of active citizenship, the challenges involved in engaging a diverse prison population in meaningful activity, and possible solutions.
We hope to hold similar meetings at other prisons in the months to come. Contact Emma Wicken if you are interested in arranging a visit to a prison where you work.
We're greatful to Michael Spurr, Chief Executive NOMS, for sending copies of Time Well Spent to all prison governors together with a letter of support.
The Prison Reform Trust is running a conference on 12 July for practitioners (free for magistrates) on how to reduce the number of children sentenced to custody and subject to custodial remand. The conference is specifically designed for Youth Offending Team staff and magistrates, to give them practical tools to reduce custody and will feature a selection of workshops.
If you have any questions or would like more information email Rebecca Nadin or call 020 7689 7726. If you would like to attend then places can be booked here.
Ken Clarke addresses All-Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group
Ken Clarke, Secretary of State for Justice, addressed the AGM of the All-Party Parliamentary Penal Affairs Group on 28 June to set out the government's proposals to reform the criminal justice system. His presentation came a day ahead of the House of Commons’ second reading of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.
Presentations made to the group will be available on our website in due course.
We will also shortly be sending out briefings to all MPs to inform debate as the Bill passes through Parliament.
The Prison Reform Trust has recently responded to a number of consultations, including the Sentencing Council's consultation on drug offence guidelines; the Scottish Prison Service's Prison Rules for prisons and young offenders institutions; the Equality and Human Rights Commission consultation on reform of the EHRC; and the Government Equalities Office consultation on strengthening women's voices in Government.
To find copies of all of our most recent consultation responses, please visit our consultation page here.
Women's Justice Taskforce
Effective community sentences that command the confidence of the courts should cut women’s offending, reduce the women’s prison population and save the public purse, according to a report launched by the independent Women’s Justice Taskforce.
The findings of the report will be discussed with the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and Treasury.
Listen to Stephen Otter, Taskforce member and Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall police on Radio 4's Today programme; Juliet Lyon on Radio 4's Woman's Hour and read more coverage on the Financial Mail Women's Forum.
To read more and find further press coverage, click here.
Jenny Talbot OBE
We're delighted to announce that Jenny Talbot, programme manager for learning difficulties and disabilities, has been awarded an OBE for services to people with special needs in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
Friends' Open Day
Just to remind readers that PRT will be holding a Friends' Open Day at our London offices on 19 July 2011. This will be a chance to get together and talk about current work programmes and future plans.
For more information about the Friends scheme or the Open Day, contact Eve Davies.