A coalition of mental health agencies, prison reform group’s and women’s organisations yesterday launched a national campaign urging the government to stop sending women with mental health problems to prison.
The campaign, which calls for more investment in mental health provision, drug treatment and supervision in the community, was launched at a meeting in parliament organised by groups including Mind, the Prison Reform Trust and the Asian Women’s Advisory Service.
The meeting was addressed by Baroness Jean Corston, who in March published a report for the Home Office calling for existing women’s prisons to be closed and replaced with smaller units.
Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyon, who also addressed the meeting, said: “So many women in prison are mentally ill, so much of their offending is a public health rather than a criminal justice, concern. This long-standing problem could be solved not by investing in more women’s prisons but by providing mental health care, drug treatment, court diversion and women’s support and supervision centres across the country.”
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