The Big Question

Should women’s prisons be replaced with smaller units and more community sentences, as the Corston review demands?

Karen Shook – Disability equality adviser
Yes. Many women are incarcerated for “offences” that men would not necessarily be jailed for. Many sentences are for too long for women. This results in women being taken out of their communities, fractured families and lack of rehabilitation. Prisons are often unable to offer support for individual needs.

Jean Stogdon – Grandparents Plus
Women are not usually a threat to others in society, so why put them in prison? Where they have children, they shouldn’t be separated from them because it’s only storing up trouble further down the line. It’s punishing the children through no fault of their own. Some of these women have mental health problems for which they need help.

Angie Lawrence – Single mother
Most women do not benefit from or warrant serving time in prison. Their emotional needs are different from men’s and they are less able to cope with internment. Time spent in smaller units or doing community service would help to give them a more positive outlook, and provide them with a solid base to prevent further reoffending.

Len Smith – Gypsy activist
This might be controversial, but as a general answer I’d say no. Offenders are offenders, regardless of gender, and should be treated equally. However, I also believe in “special case” options, which would probably operate more in women’s cases. Sentencing should probably take into account family and dependants rather than just the offender, for women’s and men.



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