Showing posts with label Cornton Vale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cornton Vale. Show all posts

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Women in Prison

A report recommends that Scotland's only all-female jail should be demolished to make way for specialist units. Last week, the Commission on Women Offenders, chaired by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini, published the findings of an eight-month review on women in the country's criminal justice system. It said Cornton Vale prison, near Stirling, should be replaced with a smaller specialist prison for long-term and high-risk prisoners, as well as regional units to hold short-term and remand prisoners. Her comments were echoed by Brigadier Hugh Monro, Chief Inspector of Prisons in Scotland, who carried out his third inspection of the jail in two-and-a-half years. He said inmates suffering from complex mental health issues should be moved into specialist care facilities. Women have been held in "silent cells" without natural light or ventilation where the bed is just a mattress on concrete.

Brigadier Monro said: "We need some signposts nationally about where such people should be held. Either we up our game for male and female prisoners when dealing with mental health issues or we need to look at alternative facilities not within the prison system."

Juliet Lyon
, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:"It is intolerable that some of most vulnerable women in Scotland should be held in one of its bleakest, most outdated and under-staffed institution."

The number of women in prison has more than doubled over the last decade, although 75% of custodial sentences imposed on females are for six months or less.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Freedom Is Jail

Just to reinforce the previous blog's comment that capitalism distorts all relationships a report comes out of Europe that finds many women in Scotland are choosing to go into prison - and stay there longer - because their lives on the outside are so chaotic .
In some cases, the problems faced by women on the outside were so enormous they considered prison as a refuge.

"There is evidence that some of these women are choosing to go to prison," said Dr Shewan of Glasgow Caledonian University .

It indicates some women choose to go to prison to escape abusive partners; others to try to stabilise spiralling debts and drug addiction. Also reveals that women had committed crimes (including fire-raising) within prison so as to actually avoid release .

Scotland has one of the fastest-growing female prisoner populations in Europe, despite repeated promises from ministers to reduce the problem. In the past decade, it has more than doubled. Last year, it peaked, with 365 women behind bars. On the same day in 2002, there were 273 women in jail.

The study suggests that sentencers sometimes send women to prison to receive help not available in the community.

Community services are so unable to meet the basic needs of women offenders with drug problems, and so many other problems, that incarceration becomes an easier option, according to the report.

"Could this be one of the underlying reasons why the female prison population in Scotland has been (increasing), and continues to increase?"
In his latest report on Cornton Vale, Scotland's only women's prison, Dr Andrew McClellan, the chief inspector of prisons, concluded that, of the inmates, 98% had drug addiction problems, 80% had mental health problems and 75% had a history of abuse and very poor physical health.
Mental health and addiction problems characterise these women, and many experts claim the experience of prison is likely to increase their drug-taking and offending. Many of them are still being imprisoned for minor offences. Seven out of 10 prison sentences passed on women are for six months or less. In 2004-5, more than 400 women were sent to prison for failing to pay a fine.
"We are locking up increasing numbers of increasingly damaged women," Dr McLellan said "It is desperately sad. You see it not just in their eyes but on their arms, which are deeply scarred from a long history of self-harming."