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24 May 2018

Howard League responds to the Ministry of Justice’s Education and Employment Strategy

The Barbed studio

The Howard League for Penal Reform has responded to the Education and Employment Strategy, published today (Thursday 24 May) by the Ministry of Justice.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This is a welcome announcement by the Secretary of State for Justice, but the success of this policy will depend upon the government’s ability to solve a long-running problem – prisons’ failure to get people out of their cells and into education and training.

“Unless prisons can function like real-life places of work – ensuring that people are up and out in the morning, having had a shower and some breakfast, to arrive on time to do a full day’s work for a full day’s pay and pay tax – then what will happen is what has always happened: people might be able to get jobs on release, but they will struggle to keep them.

“The Howard League is the only body in the world ever to have run a proper business in a prison. It gave prisoners the opportunity to do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay and enabled them to pay tax, save and support their families. They made voluntary contributions to victims’ charities.

“As a centre of excellence for real work in prison, we have offered to help the government to realise more prisoners’ potential. The offer is still there.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  1. The Howard League is a centre of excellence for real work in prison. It launched Barbed, a graphic design studio, in Coldingley prison in 2005. More information about the charity’s work in this field can be found on its website.
  1. Prison work and social enterprise: the story of Barbed, an independent evaluation of the project that was published in 2008, can be found on the Howard League website.
  1. Barbed: what happened next, a report that charts the project’s impact on those who trained, worked and supervised in the graphic design studio, can be found on the Howard League website.
  1. Business behind bars: making real work in prison real, a report outlining a blueprint for how real work in prison can flourish in a transformed prison system, can be found on the Howard League website.


Rob Preece
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