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Frances Crook’s blog

Frances Crook in front of office bookshelves

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, provides informal comments on the issues of the day.

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  • 26 Jun 2018
    Community Justice and the future of probation

    Forgive me but this blog will be a little longer than usual. We have been thinking a lot about the future of probation at the Howard League, given the train-wreck that was the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms introduced by Chris Grayling. The Justice Select Committee is the latest body to deliver a damning critique of what has …  Read more

  • 23 May 2018
    Notes from Dame Glenys Stacey’s evidence to the APPG on Women in the Penal System

    The Howard League supports the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System (APPG), which has launched its Inquiry into the Sentencing of Women. The APPG held an oral evidence session with Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, and what she said was really interesting. The minutes of the meeting will be …  Read more

  • 14 May 2018
    Prisoner voting

    The Equalities and Human Rights Committee (EHRC) of the Scottish Parliament, a cross-party group, has published a report on prisoner voting. It sets out the ethical and some of the practical issues and reviews the evidence it gathered from a wide range of respondents. It is a positive contribution to a difficult debate. My position is …  Read more

  • 11 May 2018
    Making a difference in prison

    I have visited seven prisons in the last few weeks and have seen some good things going on. These have included private and public sector, locals and long-termers and women’s prisons. These thoughts are not a comprehensive plan, nor do my visits in any way resemble inspections. But, I have been visiting prisons for 30 years …  Read more

  • 9 Apr 2018
    Brinsford – the story of just one prison

    “Emergency intervention to sort out failing prison!” The headline I have seen, or a version of it, year after year. I will tell the story of just one prison. Brinsford is a medium sized prison near Wolverhampton and holds around 500 young men, mostly between the ages of 18 to 21. It is not famous, nor …  Read more

  • 19 Mar 2018
    Isolation in the snow

    While snow has laid a blanket over the country, children have enjoyed the experience. But not all children. Children in prison have been locked up in isolation, and refused permission to go out in the snow – even to touch it as they were escorted about the jail. On the first Monday after the snow fell …  Read more

  • 13 Mar 2018
    How to stop mobile phones being smuggled into prisons

    The new justice secretary, David Gauke, has given his first speech on prisons. He focused on security, drugs and gangs and indicated that he would confront these scourges which, he suggested, were at the root of the problems faced in prisons. Leaving aside that I think they are symptoms of a system in meltdown – and I …  Read more

  • 26 Feb 2018
    Animal magic in prison

    I visited a women’s prison last week and met a woman who had been inside many years. There is so much wrong with our sentencing structure, but the point of this blogpost is to look at what can be done to mitigate some of the cruelties of the system today, while we are campaigning for …  Read more

  • 23 Feb 2018
    Words and labels, and why they matter

    I tweeted this morning about a sports report on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. The reporter talked repeatedly of the ‘girls’ in the Great Britain – yes, I know the country is the UK, but for some reason we get that wrong, too – curling team. I wondered if perhaps the team comprised children. It seems …  Read more

  • 16 Feb 2018
    How the Howard League legal team battles hard to get young prisoners released on time

    The Times front page story today says that prisoners who are eligible for supervised release will be given the opportunity in greater numbers. This is to be welcomed. The Howard League legal team has battled hard to get young prisoners released on time and with support – it has been an uphill fight. Some recent examples …  Read more

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