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Women ‘hit hardest’ by ‘shameful’ short prison sentences, new figures reveal

Ladies have been disproportionately hit with jail sentences of lower than one month, newly launched figures reveal, main campaigners to sentence the “ridiculous overuse” of incarceration for minor offences.

One in 4 girls despatched to prison final 12 months – greater than 1,500 – have been sentenced to 30 days or much less, with virtually 300 of them put behind bars for beneath two weeks.

Sentencing guidelines imply non-violent prisoners are sometimes launched after half of that point, which implies a whole bunch of girls are in jail for one week and even much less.

Campaigners mentioned girls have been hit the toughest as a result of they’re extra more likely to be carers. They mentioned that even quick sentences put them liable to shedding their youngsters. 

“Ladies are nonetheless being despatched to jail for not paying TV licence or council tax,” mentioned Kate Paradine, the chief govt of Women in Prison, which is campaigning to halve the variety of girls behind bars by 2020. 

“A couple of weeks in jail are sufficient to lose your private home, youngsters and job and trigger hurt to psychological well being. As a result of girls are sometimes major carers, when a mom is distributed to jail, in 9 out of 10 circumstances her youngsters must go away their dwelling to enter the care system or to reside with family.”

Till now, the Ministry of Justice has solely launched figures for prisoners jailed for beneath three months in jail – obscuring the quantity serving ultra-short sentences.

Now a written parliamentary reply to a query requested by the Labour Celebration has revealed these statistics. They present that one in 4 girls – and one in six males – jailed in 2016 have been imprisoned for beneath one month.

The figures additionally present that 36 per cent of prisoners have been sentenced to lower than three months, a proportion rising to 55 per cent of girls.

It’s unclear what number of of these girls have been moms or cared-for youngsters.  

Ms Paradine warned that girls’s centres and different neighborhood alternate options to custody “face a funding disaster that’s getting worse”.

“We and plenty of others consider it’s doable to half the feminine jail inhabitants of round four,00zero to 2,020 by 2020, however we should act now,” she mentioned.

Labour mentioned the observe was additionally a major waste of cash, which could possibly be spent on cheaper girls’s centres and neighborhood schemes that “are higher at decreasing reoffending”.

Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon mentioned: “The overwhelming majority of girls jailed have dedicated a non-violent offence, and half are in jail for theft.

“If jail is about rehabilitation in addition to punishment, what’s the level of so many ladies serving only a few weeks in jail?”

Every jail place value £47,00zero a 12 months, Mr Burgon added, locations which he mentioned needs to be stored for “those that actually needs to be there”.

The Ministry of Justice declined to reply to the figures, however pointed The Impartial to a current admission, by an under-secretary of state for the division, that “quick sentencing is just not delivering the products”.

Phillip Lee advised MPs, on 5 December, that “our technique is that if we will hold individuals out of custody, we are going to”.

He mentioned: “I perceive and recognise that quick sentencing is just not delivering the products, and I additionally recognise that plenty of girls are victims themselves.”

However he added: “In the end, the ladies’s justice property is about safety for the broader public – to maintain individuals who have accomplished issues incorrect away from the general public – and decreasing crime in the long run by working higher with the ladies involved.”

England and Wales have lately fallen behind Scotland in using non-custodial sentences, with a dramatic decline south of the border.

The Centre for Justice Innovation revealed a 24 per cent fall within the variety of neighborhood sentences over the previous decade – regardless of proof that they scale back reoffending.

It partly blamed native court docket closures and privatisation of the probation service, which had decreased magistrates and judges’ confidence in – and information of – alternate options to custody.

In distinction, in Scotland, there had been an 18 per cent enhance in non-prison sentences, with a brand new system of neighborhood payback orders attaining a far decrease reconviction charge.

Ladies in Jail is main the 2020 Ambition to scale back the ladies’s jail inhabitants to not more than 2,020 by 2020 – roughly half the present whole.

It mentioned greater than half of girls in jail have been victims of home or sexual violence, half have skilled abuse or neglect as a baby and a 3rd grew up in care.

In the meantime, 84 per cent of girls’s jail sentences are for non-violent offences, equivalent to theft, which can be “typically associated to poverty and dependancy”.

Most girls serving quick jail sentences are “again in jail inside a 12 months”, the organisation mentioned.

In 2013, Lord Neuberger, then president of the Supreme Court docket, criticised quick sentences for being “disruptive” to the prisoner’s job and household life.

Lord Neuberger mentioned a go to to Holloway, the ladies’s jail, had made him rethink his view that the “clang of the jail gates” all the time had advantages.

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