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There are many reasons why building more prison places is a backward step – read this blogpost – but we need to get the message to Westminster. We’re asking all supporters of the campaign to email their MP.
To make things simple, we’ve jotted down some lines below that you can choose from to include in your email. Please include your postcode in the email and don’t forget to mention that you are a constituent.
We’re trying to get this message out to every MP in the land, so please copy us into your email – our address is firstname.lastname@example.org – so that we can keep track of how we’re getting on.
You can find your MP’s contact details here.
Dear XXX MP,
I am writing to you as a constituent (Postcode: XXX XXX) to express my concern that the government has announced it will increase the number of prison cells for women by 500 places. This is despite the number of women in prison falling and the government’s stated policy to reduce the number of women entering into the criminal justice system.
Ongoing plans to recruit 20,000 additional police officers are cited in justifying this decision to expand the size of the women’s prison estate. There is no sensible reason why more police must mean more women are arrested. Women who currently enter the criminal justice system are often victims of crime themselves. Very few women commit serious violent crimes. Police forces are already committed to reduce arrests of women and to divert women to services that meet their needs and reduce crime.
The government should be backing its own policy to reduce the numbers of women in the criminal justice system and not be spending money on an admission of failure.
These 500 prison new places will cost millions, not only to build but in running them year after year. The Howard League for Penal Reform has highlighted that the sums being spent will dwarf the money being given to women’s centres and organisations working in the community to prevent crime and support women – work that the Ministry of Justice’s own research shows reduces crime and turns women’s lives round. At a time when self-injury by women in prison is on the rise, it is unacceptable for the government to be contemplating an expansion of women’s prisons.
I would be grateful to hear your views on whether money should be spent on failing women’s prisons or on women’s centres and support on housing, families, and mental health in the community.
Will you raise these concerns on my behalf with government ministers at the Ministry of Justice? It is not too late to stop these plans and persuade the government to have the courage to back its own stated policy to keep women out of the criminal justice system wherever possible.