The All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System, supported by the Howard League, is calling on the government to abolish an outdated law that gives courts the extraordinary power to send people to prison for their ‘own protection’.
In the same week that the government announced its plans to release low-risk pregnant women and women with young babies from prison to protect them from coronavirus, our lawyers brought a case to the Court of Appeal on behalf of a young mother in prison.
We are facing the new year in uncertain times. Government rhetoric is dispiriting and seems to be designed to play to the lowest human instincts. It feels a bit like we are all in stasis, awaiting a maelstrom of legislation and activity. Meanwhile, we are getting on with our work with energy as the Howard League is in good shape.
My fourth blogpost looks at the Conservative manifesto. The main problem is that many of the specific proposals are in opposition to evidence. Either they are not backed up by evidence, they are directly contradicted by evidence or, at best, they lack evidence.
My third review of the party manifestos is a critique of Labour’s plans. Yet again we see scaremongering about rising violent crime, which, as I said about the Lib Dem manifesto, is a perennial problem, and I am disappointed that a comprehensive plan to address violence is missing.
The Green Party manifesto was published this week. At 88 pages it is pretty comprehensive, although most of the crime proposals are entreaties to do things better rather than specific legislative reforms. As we know from long experience, just asking people to do things does not necessary achieve the desired result. Although, it is also true that simply introducing new laws can have no effect or indeed have unintended consequences.
The new prisons minister, Robert Buckland MP, recently replied to a Parliamentary Question from Richard Burgon MP, the shadow justice secretary, concerning the number of people received into prison who are homeless. This was interesting because most debate has centred around people being homeless on release from prison, which is, of course, still a major problem.