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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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  • 22 Mar 2016
    Ending mass incarceration

    The last session of the we hosted last week in Oxford discussed how to end mass incarceration. The great prison experiment in the United States that started in the 1970s and saw the number of men, women and children in various forms of incarceration explode to more than 1.5 million by 2010 is, finally, coming …  Read more

  • 9 Mar 2016
    Doncaster prison: What Michael Gove should do next

    The inspection report on Doncaster prison reveals once again the disaster that is the prison system. The relatively newly built jail is simply not safe for the men, some only teenagers, and it is not safe for staff. Prisons have become hotbeds of festering violence and misery. They are feeding the crime problem, not solving it. A …  Read more

  • 12 Feb 2016
    The very basic stuff

    The Prime Minister made a seminal speech about prison reform this week and I welcome his admission that prisons are in a shocking state. But before we start getting too grand about reform, we need to look at the very basic stuff that needs changing. You can’t get people work-ready or help them live independent and …  Read more

  • 2 Feb 2016
    Medway secure training centre

    Anyone who saw the violence, casual abuse and hatred inflicted on children inside Medway secure training centre that was revealed by Panorama would be shocked. Even I was horrified, after years of hearing about high use of violence by staff to control children, broken bones and distress. The question now is, what are we going …  Read more

  • 19 Jan 2016
    Howard League’s legal work

    This is the second in what will be regular bulletins about the Howard League’s legal work to help children and young adults in custody. We received calls on our confidential legal advice line relating to 80 individual young people in December, fewer than normal because of the holidays. The most common issues were prison punishments and …  Read more

  • 14 Jan 2016
    Punishment system out of control

    Over 2,000 years of additional imprisonment were imposed over the past five years on people who misbehaved in prison. Prisons operate disciplinary hearing called adjudications where allegations of rule breaking are dealt with. The Howard League published research last year based on just one year’s figures which showed that in 2014 over 160,000 extra days were …  Read more

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