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Howard League Blog

Informal comment from our Chief Executive, Andrea Coomber KC (Hon.), and other contributors.

  • 20 Jan 2022
    Why extending the sentencing powers of magistrates is a bad idea

    The news earlier this week that the government is seeking to extend the sentencing powers of magistrates is deeply disappointing. Legislation was passed in 2003 to extend the sentencing powers of magistrates, but it was never enacted for good reason.  Read more

  • 17 Jan 2022
    The decades-long injustice of the IPP sentence must end

    Today, the report stage of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in the House of Lords comes to an end. The amended bill will now go to a third reading in the House of Lords, followed by a “ping pong” stage where both Houses of Parliament must agree on the wording of the Bill.   Read more

  • 23 Dec 2021
    A message of hope for 2022

    As we come to the end of another challenging year, I would like to thank all Howard League members for your support in 2021. Christmas is a difficult period for many, and particularly so for people in prison and their families. The calls this week to our legal advice line, from children and young adults, are a stark reminder of how life inside is very different from life outside at this time of year.  Read more

  • 10 Dec 2021
    The Prisons Strategy White Paper

    On Tuesday, the government published its delayed Prisons Strategy White Paper. It’s not all terrible. Some of the ideas in the White Paper could begin to address prisons’ dire record on safety, education, work and resettlement, and the Howard League has long supported more autonomy for prison governors. However, the overall strategic vision is one which will send more people to prison every year, compounding the very problems that the White Paper seeks to solve.  Read more

  • 19 Nov 2021
    A debate on the IPP sentence that showed Parliament at its best

    In Monday’s committee stage debate on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, Members of the House of Lords discussed a series of amendments on the sentence of imprisonment for public protection (IPP). The Bill has been rightly viewed as an example of penal policy at its worst – punitive, illiberal and unevidenced. In contrast, Monday’s debate showed Parliament at its best.  Read more

  • 8 Nov 2021
    Thinking differently about the future

    It is a privilege and pleasure to have completed my first week as Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, following in the footsteps of Frances Crook.  Read more

  • 29 Oct 2021
    Frances Crook says ‘thank you’

    This is my last day as chief executive of the Howard League.  Read more

  • 7 Oct 2021
    A 10-point action plan to change prisons and build safer communities

    I have written to the new Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, with ideas for a radical plan of action, as we understand he is preparing for publication of a White Paper on the future of prisons. Change is needed in a system that is antiquated and failing victims, the taxpayer and perpetrators.  Read more

  • 1 Sep 2021
    Making Black Lives Matter in the Criminal Justice System

    Two months ago, the Howard League published a practical guide for antiracist lawyers. The guide outlines some of the discrimination faced by Black defendants within the criminal justice system and wider society.  Read more

  • 13 Aug 2021
    Vaccination in prisons

    When the vaccination programme started to be rolled out, we urged the Ministry of Justice to implement a prison-by-prison strategy. This is not what happened, and now it seems that the various authorities and experts are blaming each other for the low take-up.  Read more

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