“Taking the most hurt people out of society and punishing them in order to teach them how to live within society is, at best, futile. Whatever else a prisoner knows, she knows everything there is to know about punishment because that is exactly what she has grown up with. Whether it is childhood sexual abuse, indifference, neglect; punishment is most familiar to her."
Founder of Women in Prison
Women in Prison works to break the cycle of punishment for women in the criminal justice system. The government’s programme of radical criminal justice reform provides an opportunity to break that cycle for women throughout the system and prevent more women from being drawn in.
We welcome the recognition of the differences between men and women in the criminal justice system. These differences are well documented and it is not necessary to re-examine them at length. We are proposing an Action Plan to take account of these differences and effectively address women’s offending behaviour.
A tailored approach is needed to address the root causes of women’s offending behaviour and this will not be delivered without a tailored approach to commissioning rehabilitation services and punishment for women.
The proposed action plan includes:
1. A women-specific payment by results pilot, tailoring the approach
2. Women-specific provision drug rehabilitation pilots, in prison and in the community
3. A timetable for trialling localisation of women’s incarceration
4. Maintaining effective support for women in the criminal justice system which is independent of the system that punishes them
5. Creation of a central driver, supported by the MOJ Criminal Justice Women's Policy Team, responsible for ensuring delivery across government.
6. A nationwide prison and community programme of prevention and support for women in the criminal justice system who have experienced domestic violence or sexual abuse
7. A specific action plan for women engaged in prostitution focussed on ending criminalisation and increasing exiting support
8. Piloting women-specific community sentences
9. Provision of specialist women-specific mental health liaison and diversion
Please see also Women Breaking the Cycle - the response to the Green Paper from Women Moving Forward (an advocacy group for women with experience of the criminal justice system facilitated by Women in Prison).