Julian Ware-Lane supports Women in Prison’s campaign and calls for a new approach to criminal justice for women

Julian_2014_headandshouldersJulian Ware-Lane, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Southend West, has today pledged a commitment to support Women in Prison’s Manifesto which calls for a new approach to criminal justice, where the abuse, marginalisation and poverty at the root of so much of women’s offending is addressed and custodial sentencing is used as a last resort.

The campaign is a response to the alarming fact that the UK has one of the highest rates of women’s imprisonment in Western Europe. The majority serve short sentences for non-violent offences. Short sentences wreck lives, a few weeks inside can mean a woman loses her children, her home, and her job. Many women are trapped in an endless cycle within the Criminal Justice System – 45% are reconvicted within a year of release.

Julian has given his support to Women in Prison’s manifesto, which calls for:

• Greater use of alternatives to custodial sentencing
• Cross-departmental Ministerial leadership
• Support for the women-specialist voluntary sector
• Action to ensure no woman leaves prison homeless
• Commitment and acceleration of gender-specific reforms to the women’s prison estate

Women in Prison’s Policy and Campaigns Manager Claire Cain said: “We are delighted to have Julian’s support. Together it’s time to make change. No woman should be in prison as it exists today, community alternatives work, are cheaper and cause less disruption. The current system is too expensive for the public purse, and too expensive for the women’s lives.”

Julian said: “Whilst the public must be protected and crimes punished, it should never be about revenge. We must have a system that properly rehabilitates, a system that sees re-offending as low as we can get it. For rehabilitation to really work we cannot see lives wrecked.”

You can find out more about Women in Prison’s campaign at www.womeninprison.org.uk/ge2015.

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2 Responses to Julian Ware-Lane supports Women in Prison’s campaign and calls for a new approach to criminal justice for women

  1. Short sentences wreck lives, a few weeks inside can mean a woman loses her children, her home, and her job. Many women are trapped in an endless cycle within the Criminal Justice System – 45% are reconvicted within a year of release.

    I don’t doubt the above, but, if we read:

    a few weeks inside can mean losing your children, your home, and your job. Many are trapped in an endless cycle within the Criminal Justice System – 45% are reconvicted within a year of release.

    Is that still true?

    Is the issue that we have not got our minds around the whole offender management system? As a result we have something that is inefficient ineffective and expensive – and inhumane.

    Most people inside for short sentences are not a danger to society – a nuisance at worst. Society has to be protected from those who are a danger to society (usually violent offenders – physically or mentally – but sometimes others like confidence tricksters – financial and other?) – and locking them up is probably the easiest way to do this.

    If people are no more than a nuisance imprisoning them has to be justified on grounds of retribution (a nasty motivation), deterrence, and hopefully rehabilitation. I wonder whether locking up anyone for a short sentence is actually cost-effective? The cost is that of locking them up and the cost of dealing with the consequences of locking them up. The latter may initially be met by the offender, but usually social problems (homelessness, job loss, and family breakdown) end up costing society.

    Are men and women so very different that “deterrence” means locking up men but giving women “alternatives to custodial sentencing”?

    Can we only enforce male rehabilitation by imprisonment, whilst female rehabilitation can be done by “alternatives to custodial sentencing”?

    Sentencing should be tailored to the offender – and I am not sure that defining the offender principally in terms of their gender is appropriate. Easy, yes; appropriate, not sure.

    Julian said: “Whilst the public must be protected and crimes punished, it should never be about revenge. We must have a system that properly rehabilitates, a system that sees re-offending as low as we can get it. For rehabilitation to really work we cannot see lives wrecked.”

    Surely that applies to all; men as much as women?

  2. Pingback: Imprisonment and Gender | Outside the marginals

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