Friday, May 22, 2009

Prisons Failing Women

From the Guardian:
In pay, pensions, politics and promotion, the gender gap is a disgrace. But in justice, women face a national scandal. A report published today by the Fawcett Society reveals a justice system that is "institutionally sexist". This is of no surprise to organisations such as the Howard League, which have long campaigned against the hopeless situation of women rotting in our prisons.

Today, as we sit outraged in our armchairs, 4,274 women and girls languish in our jails. These are not the dangerous criminals one might imagine, but often sad victims of circumstance and violence – often at the hands of men. More than half have been victims of domestic violence, a third have experienced sexual abuse, and 25% have been in care as children. Two-thirds of women in prison have dependent children under 18; of these, just one in 20 remain in their own home once their mother has been sentenced.

These vulnerable women, damaged at the hands of men through violence, sexual abuse, neglect, or trafficking, are victims themselves. The revolving door at the prison gates is an appalling and hopeless cycle – and the taxpayer funds each pointless prison place to the tune of over £40,000 a year for each female we incarcerate. Tragically, the dire consequences leave blood on the male-dominated government's hands.

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