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Isle of Wight Liberal Democrats

IWD 2020: An alternative to prison for women

March 3, 2020 5:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Women make up less than 5% of the prison population, but they are more likely than male prisoners to be serving short sentences for non-violent offences. Most of them have experienced abuse, and many are mothers of dependent children. This has a destructive impact on women and children, while doing very little to prevent crime and keep people safe.

On top of this, female prisoners are more likely than male prisoners to report poor mental health and problems with alcohol and drugs. Indeed, self-harm is also far more prevalent in women's prisons, with 2,828 incidents per 1,000 prisoners in the 12 months to March 2019, compared to 596 per 1,000 in men's prisons.

This helps support the case that as most women in prison are vulnerable people, they should be only sent to prison when absolutely necessary.

That's why, ahead of International Women's Day, I have put forward legislation on alternatives to prison for women:

Sentencing (Women) Bill

A Bill to require courts to impose community sentences on women offenders unless they have committed a serious or violent offence and pose a threat to the public; and for connected purposes.

Women should only be sent to prison where absolutely necessary: for the most serious crimes, or where they pose a threat to the public. Tough, community-based sentences would be far more effective at preventing reoffending, and helping offenders turn their lives around.

I hope to see the Conservatives take forward my Bill in supporting these vulnerable women have the best chances in life.