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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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  • 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.  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.  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.  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 radical change.  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 to happen in sport a lot. Men are called men, women are called girls.  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.  Read more

  • 14 Feb 2018
    Using participation and legal work to help a child get a home on release from prison

    We have been running sessions with children in custody on the concept of what ‘home’ means. After all, children in prisons are living there. And the Howard League legal team has worked with many hundreds of young people to help get them a home on release.  Read more

  • 7 Feb 2018
    Whitewash the dirty prison walls, but only system change will solve the problems in the long run

    I am running out of fingers on which to count the secretaries of state as they come and go.  Read more

  • 10 Jan 2018
    Enshrining children’s rights in policy and practice

    The Howard League is working in partnership with Defence for Children International (DCI) Belgium, DCI Italy and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, which is based in Poland. This international project is funded by the EU and aims to promote children’s rights by improving detention conditions for children and enhancing the legal protections for children deprived of their liberty.  Read more

  • 3 Jan 2018
    Christmas in a children’s prison

    I visited a prison holding 160 teenage boys aged 15 to 17 over the Christmas holidays. It was a depressing day. An inspection report, which I have not seen but fully expect will be critical, is due to be published soon, so I am not going to comment on the overall treatment of the children at this stage. I just want to say something about Christmas.  Read more

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