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15 March 2016

Women’s justice reform

The Prison Reform Trust has long called for a reduction in women’s imprisonment in the UK and a step change in how the criminal justice system responds to the needs of women and the drivers to their offending.

Following the announcement that HMP Holloway, the largest women’s prison in Europe, is to close, director of the Prison Reform Trust, Juliet Lyon, joined Baroness Corston on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour to discuss how much progress has been made in reforming women’s justice. Presenter, Jane Garvey visited HMP Styal and Stockport Women’s Centre to hear first hand from women there. You can listen to the show by clicking here.

To mark International Women’s Day (8 March) we brought together some of the latest developments in our Transforming Lives programme.

Find out about our new women’s justice site, our latest briefings and blogs and hear our director Juliet Lyon at the Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World festival.

We have just launched a newly updated and more accessible women’s programme website. The site includes a wide range of resources, including our briefing paper ’Why women?’ which highlights the need for a sustained focus on reducing the number of women sent to prison either on remand or sentenced, and our discussion paper on the Sentencing of Mothers. You can meet the team, find out the latest news, read our reports and get involved. Over the coming months we will be including a range of blogs, case studies and features from those working with women in the criminal justice system as well as from the women themselves /those who are directly affected.

Jenny Earle, Programme Director for reducing women’s imprisonment, has written about some of the challenges that women in trouble with the law often face as part of The Huffington Post’s All Women Everywhere project. Next month she will be speaking at a major conference on Women and the Criminal Justice System – Past present and Future, click here to find out more.

As the largest women’s jail in Western Europe closes, Prison Reform Trust director Juliet Lyon, will be taking part in an event at the Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World festival this Friday (11 March), looking at the history of Holloway prison and asking what a prison system that works for women should look like.

In spite of recent modest declines in the women’s prison population in England and Wales, the number of women in prison globally is on the rise. Latest research by ICPR has found that there are more than 700,000 women and girls held in penal institutions throughout the world, and that this is growing at a faster rate than the prison population as a whole. The number of women has increased by around 50% since the year 2000, compared with an estimated 20% for the prison population as a whole. Click here to read the briefing.