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Nick Clegg calls for fewer women behind bars

February 22, 2015 12:01 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is calling for fewer women offenders to be put behind bars.

In a speech on Liberal Democrat justice policy on Monday, Nick will describe the plight of thousands of abused and vulnerable women imprisoned in England and Wales as a "litany of despair."


He will highlight the huge proportion of female offenders who have suffered abuse, drug addiction and mental illness.

Two thirds of women prisoners admitted to committing their crimes so that they could get money to buy drugs, with many suffering from anxiety or depression.

Nick will say:

"Nearly half of all women prisoners, and one in five men, have tried to kill themselves at some point in their lives.

"Abused and vulnerable women…crammed like sardines into crowded prisons.

"That is not proof that prison is working. It's a litany of despair."

"Too often, for too many offenders, prison is not the answer. It is not the answer for every mother left sobbing in her cell."

He will also highlight the work of Liberal Democrat Justice Minister Simon Hughes in helping female offenders to stay closer to their children and prepare them for work when they are released.

Nick will say:

"We are keeping women closer to where they will live when they are released, making it easier to maintain contact with their children and families, and helping them to get the skills they need to find a job.

"If we can help to prevent the family breakdown so often associated with mothers being parted from their children during a stretch behind bars, then we can help to prevent another known driver of criminality."

Nick will use his speech to set out Liberal Democrat plans to establish a Women's Justice Board based on the same principles as the successful Youth Justice Board to work to reduce the number of women behind bars.