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Women's Prisons in England: Barriers to Reform (From Women and Punishment: The Struggle for Justice, 155-181, 2002, Pat Carlen, ed. -- See NCJ-195990)

NCJ Number
Jackie Lowthian
Date Published
27 pages
After examining the British agenda for reform to improve women's prisons, this chapter identifies barriers to reform and what must be done to address these barriers.
The British Home Secretary has declared his intention to ensure that positive change in the area of women and criminal justice is achieved. The establishment of a Women's Policy Team within the Home Office Correctional Policy Unit provides a mechanism through which, potentially, change can be achieved. The success or failure of this mechanism in driving positive change will depend upon the extent to which the barriers to reform are overcome. These barriers include budgetary constraints coupled with the need to accommodate ever-increasing numbers of women inmates. These barriers have led to other barriers, including staffing and program constraints. Further, the pressures of taking many short-term and remand prisoners while also accommodating young prisoners, lifers, and longer term inmates, in addition to operating mother and baby units, have resulted in worsening conditions for women at some prisons. In addressing these barriers to reform, there is an urgent need to reduce the number of women being sentenced to prison; to improve communication and cooperation between the policy and operational management teams; to ensure that the need to evaluate work and demonstrate effectiveness must not obstruct the delivery of effective interventions; to give priority to funding for the reform agenda; and to improve access to community services for women. 2 notes


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