Tonight I will be at Friends House for the Prison Reform Trust’s annual lecture, given by Dame Elish Angiolini. Dame Elish will be speaking on the topic of ‘Reforming Women’s Justice’, and brings a wealth of experience on the topic, most recently gained as the Chair of the Commission on Women’s Offenders in Scotland, which advocated significant overhaul to the system. Following the publication of the Commission’s findings, and indications from the Scottish Executive that they accept the majority of the recommendations, tonight’s lecture will focus on some of the challenges and opportunities for reform that lie ahead.
The lecture comes at a time when the PRT has published polling that shows significant public support for health measures, such as better mental health care and treatment for drug addiction and alcohol misuse, to cut female offending rates. The high number of women in prison, is something that has really struck a chord with members throughout the WI’s Care not Custody campaign.
All too often women’s offending is linked to underlying mental health problems as well as drug and alcohol abuse. Many women prisoners have been victims of serious crime and sustained abuse. Over a course of years evidence has built up showing the financial and social cost of imprisoning too many women for non-violent offences. Progress in this area has been too slow for too long.
Tonight’s lecture promises to make a valuable contribution to an important subject. You can watch the lecture live from 7pm on the PRT website: www.prisonreformtrust.org