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What we do

The Howard League is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities, fewer people in prison.

These are our current campaigns. Click on a link above to learn more about why the issues matter and what we are doing in each area of work.

Prison population rise over time

Weekly prison watch →

Prison numbers have more than doubled since the 1990s. There is always much more to be done. We work with parliament and the media, with criminal justice professionals, academics and members of the public, influencing debate and forcing through meaningful change.

About John Howard

John Howard is widely considered to be the first penal reformer. He lived in the eighteenth century and his life inspired admirers to establish the Howard League for Penal Reform in 1866.

John Howard


Born in Hackney, East London.


Apprenticed to grocers and sugar merchants, near St Paul’s.


Sets off for Lisbon, captured by privateers and imprisoned in France, released later that year.


Appointed High Sheriff of Bedfordshire. Makes first tour of English prisons.


Addresses committee of the House of Commons on state of prisons.


Howard publishes The State of the Prisons.


Penitentiary Houses Act. Howard appointed as one of three superintendents to choose sites and design and build new gaols.


Resigns post and continues to tour foreign prisons.


Falls ill from fever and dies in Kherson, Ukraine.

Read more about John Howard →
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    Everything we do is focused on achieving less crime, safer communities, fewer people in prison. We need you to act now for penal reform.

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