Frances Crook’s blog
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, provides informal comments on the issues of the day.
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World Suicide Prevention Day
It is a terrible thing to lose a family member to suicide; even worse when they take their own life inside a prison. I remember the mother of a 19-year-old who hanged himself in Leeds prison telling me that he had been a troubled boy but at least she now thought he would be safe. How wrong she was.  Read more
The Children and Social Work Bill
The Children and Social Work Bill is currently being considered by Parliament. The legislation was touted as implementing a range of additional safeguards but it contains a number of frankly terrifying ‘exemption clauses’ which would allow local authorities to seek permission to disapply a wide range of legal duties in the name of ‘innovation’.  Read more
An impossible position: Stay in solitary confinement or get beaten up in a cell?
Last year the Howard League revealed that thousands of years of additional imprisonment had been imposed on prisoners for misbehaviour in prison. Additional days, imposed on prisoners by visiting district judges, place additional strain on a prison system under unprecedented stress.  Read more
Transforming Rehabilitation is having a disastrous impact on women
The Howard League provides support to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System chaired by Baroness Corston. The APPG has been looking at the treatment of women in the new landscape of privatised community penalties. Later this year it will be publishing research based on oral hearings and written submissions.  Read more
The manifest injustice of the IPP
The Chair of the Parole Board, Nick Hardwick, suggested this week that the people serving indeterminate sentences should be released once their tariff has expired unless it can be proved they continue to be a risk. This is a reversal of the current burden of proof that requires people to prove they are safe.  Read more
Overnight detention of children in police cells
The Howard League has been campaigning to end the overnight detention of children in police cells. Public concern is gaining momentum. On Monday, Just for Kids Law launched a #NoChildInCells campaign. This is linked to its judicial review challenge on behalf of a 14-year-old boy who was repeatedly held overnight in police cells.  Read more
Devolution and criminal justice system
Devolution is being offered to Manchester, and it is a great opportunity for the great city to do things differently. Unfortunately, it comes with strings. Indeed, the puppet master is yet again the Treasury and central government and this means that devolution is not quite the real deal.  Read more
The Howard League had to issue a judicial review recently on behalf of someone I shall call ‘Michael’, a young deaf person in prison, to make sure he got the medical treatment and support he is entitled to.  Read more
Secure schools are the wrong answer to the wrong question
Charlie Taylor’s review of the youth justice system is complete and is currently sitting on a desk in the Ministry of Justice. When it will be released is hard to say in the current political turmoil, but we are hopeful that it will be published in the next week or so.  Read more
Women’s centres and Transforming Rehabilitation
Last week the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System, supported by the Howard League, held its AGM and heard from three women’s centres about what is happening to community sentences for women. It is a very depressing picture.  Read more