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Our work

All our work is based on high-quality research; on the experiences of our members in prison, prison leavers and their families; on insights gleaned from people working in criminal justice and related areas; and on the information provided by children and young people calling our advice line.

A prisoner staring out of a window down one of the corridors of the enhanced wing at HMP/YOI Portland, Dorset, United Kingdom.

Legal work

We run a free, confidential legal service that can be accessed through our helpline. Our lawyers identify the problems and injustice faced by children and young adults in prison. Not only do we work to find legal solutions for the young people who contact us; we also work for wider policy changes that prevent the problems reoccurring for others.

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Better Justice Partnership

Better Justice Partnership

We are working in partnership to champion evidence-based policymaking to reduce crime and make communities safer. The Better Justice Partnership brings together four major UK charities – Action for Race Equality, the Howard League for Penal Reform, Nacro, and Transform Justice – to drive government support for justice system reform. The steering group also includes Centre for Mental Health, Clinks, the Criminal Justice Alliance, and Prison Reform Trust.

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A prisoner waits to be let through an internal security gate buy a prison officer on D wing. HMP Wandsworth, London, United Kingdom

Research

We have a long history of working alongside academics and researchers to develop new ideas and understanding of the penal system. Our international peer-reviewed journal, The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, is committed to publishing high-quality theory, research and debate on all aspects of the relationship between crime and justice across the globe.

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Leela Jadhav presents at the launch event for the Howard League programme to address racial disparities in youth justice

Reducing racial disparities in youth justice

Focusing primarily on remand and joint enterprise, our three-year project involves working with grassroots groups, institutional actors, and decision-making bodies to improve outcomes and lift the voices of Black, Brown and Racialised children who face unjust criminalisation and unfair judicial decisions.

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The external wall at Guys Marsh prison.

Imprisonment for Public Protection and other indeterminate sentences

We are working to resolve the ongoing incarceration and recall of people serving the abolished Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence and the automatic, or 'two-strike', life sentence. We are also working to address the injustices of other indeterminate sentences, such as 'discretionary life'.

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A prison officer watches men as they collect their medication from the B wing treatment room at Wandsworth prison.

Remand

We are campaigning against the overuse of remand, after the number of people held in prison while awaiting trial or sentence reached its highest level in at least half a century.

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People walking through the grounds of The Mount prison.

Joint enterprise

We are working to address the injustices wrought by 'secondary liability' in joint enterprise murder cases, particularly on people from racialised minorities.

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In a magistrates court in England, models pose as defendant and district judge.

Sentencing reform

We are campaigning for a more sensible approach to sentencing, to build a more humane and effective response to crime. Sending people to prison for longer and longer only succeeds in piling more pressure on the criminal justice system and creating more problems.

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Black and white image of person gambling online on a laptop.

Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms

Our Commission was the first inquiry in the UK to focus specifically on the relationship between gambling-related harms and crime. The Commission, which published its final report in April 2023, sought to establish what the links were; what impact they had on communities and wider society; and what steps could be taken to reduce crime and make people safer.

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