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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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  • 2 Oct 2017
    Conservative Party Conference 2017: Notes from the Howard League fringe event

    The Howard League has hosted fringe meetings at the various political party conferences for many years. This gives a platform to ministers and shadow ministers to talk less formally about their penal policies and gives an opportunity to engage with party activists and community leaders. I chaired a meeting yesterday at the Conservative Conference that Sam …  Read more

  • 29 Sep 2017
    Books For Prisoners: Erlestoke

    I have been contacted by a mother of a prisoner in Erlestoke. She was told she was not permitted to send her son books. She wanted to give him novels and he had asked for a dictionary. She lodged a complaint and got her local MP involved. Eventually the governor, in an illiterate and barely comprehensible …  Read more

  • 22 Sep 2017
    We can reduce reoffending by cutting the prison population

    I am pleased that the new Secretary of State for Justice, David Lidington, has said, several times, that he wants to see fewer prisoners. I am a little concerned, however, that he is repeating the old mantra that the way to achieve this is by reducing reoffending. I had a meeting with him recently and …  Read more

  • 21 Sep 2017
    Ending the injustice of IPPs

    The recent high profile public concern about the people languishing in prison on the long discredited IPP sentence is welcome, as is the pressure to get them eased through the system and released back into the community. The problem is that they are being recalled to prison. There were 8,711 men and a handful of women …  Read more

  • 14 Sep 2017
    Children and education in prison

    The Howard League made a complaint on behalf of a fifteen year old boy who was not getting sufficient education in prison. The child, who wishes to remain anonymous, had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and Attention Deficit Disorder before he went to jail as a young teenager. His local authority issued him with a …  Read more

  • 31 Aug 2017
    Building massive jails in remote locations is a recipe for disaster

    This government, as with so many of its predecessors, is trying to build its way out of a prison crisis. It has never worked in the past and it will not work this time. I do not need to rehearse the facts about the dire state of prisons and it is now generally agreed that something …  Read more

  • 15 Aug 2017
    David Lidington and Aylesbury prison

    There has been much public concern about the state of prisons recently, and justifiably so, as people are dying, being beaten up and harming themselves. I wrote to the Secretary of State for Justice, David Lidington, as soon as he was appointed just after the general election. I suggested several steps he could take to ease …  Read more

  • 8 Aug 2017
    Girl X

    I don’t know anything more about the background story of Girl X than anyone else, but I think what we do know raises some serious questions for various authorities about the decisions they made and their responsibility for her plight. First off, she is far from alone. Over the years Howard League lawyers and caseworkers have …  Read more

  • 3 Aug 2017
    Monitoring isolation of children in prison

    On 4 July 2017 the High Court ruled that AB, a child represented by the Howard League legal team, had been treated unlawfully. The boy had been isolated and deprived of education by Feltham prison over several months.  As the Chief Inspector of prisons reported recently, the routine isolation of children in prisons is no …  Read more

  • 31 Jul 2017
    Peterborough prison and social impact bonds

    The final evaluation of the Peterborough prison Payment by Results (PbR) pilot was published last week. This was a scheme to provide support for people released from Peterborough prison after serving short sentences aimed at reducing reoffending. Services were provided by charitable organisations in the main, were tailored to individuals needs and, most crucially, people volunteered …  Read more

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