Legal aid cuts for prisoners
The legal aid cuts to prison law have resulted in prisoners’ access to justice being severely curtailed.
Legal aid for prisoners, including children, was cut severely in December 2013.
Since the cuts came into force, conditions in prisons have deteriorated sharply. Violence and self-injury have risen to record levels, and more than 270 people in prison have taken their own lives. Calls to our charities have increased by almost 50 per cent.
Together with Prisoners’ Advice Service we are legally challenging the cuts because allowing all prisoners equal access to justice is the hallmark of a civilised society.
We want to ensure that the charities’ front line legal work for people in prison is not put at risk.
The impact of the cuts
The impact of the cuts has been far-reaching. It means that a child held in solitary confinement cannot challenge their isolation. It denies help to disabled prisoners who need support packages so that they can be released safely. It means that a prisoner who is being considered by the Parole Board for transfer to an open prison, but not release, cannot get legal representation unless they can pay.
About the charities
The Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prisoners’ Advice Service (PAS) are the only charities in the UK dedicated to providing free legal advice for prisoners. The Howard League supports children and young adults, while PAS represents adults aged over 21.