Green Party Women

Green Party conference focuses on women in prison

10 September 2010

A panel this evening at Green Party autumn conference (at 6pm) will consider the many problems that now exist in the prison and justice system in the treatment of female offenders.

England and Wales has the highest imprisonment rate in Western Europe, which is a massive expense to society. The Green Party is already committed to significantly reducing the prison population, favouring a system of restorative justice, which requires offenders to make reparations for their crimes to the victims.

The panel includes Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, Denise Marshall, Group Co-ordinator of Birth Companions, a charity that offers support to pregnant women in UK prisons, and Joy Goal, project manager of the Anawin Project in Birmingham.

In advance of the panel, Juliet Lyon from the Prison Reform Trust said: "There are safe, constructive ways to stop wasting lives and money." She continued: "The numbers of women entering custody could be halved. Instead of prison, vulnerable women need to be offered much-needed mental healthcare, treatment for addictions, safe housing and preparation for employment. This would be combined with sound advice on getting out of debt, breaking free from domestic violence, abuse and prostitution and reliable support to take responsibility for their own lives and their children."

Denise Marshall, in explaining the work of Birth Companions, said: "By reducing stress and isolation, we aim to give women and babies a more positive experience and enable mothers to make a fresh start with their baby." Last year, the charity supported 87 women who were pregnant, giving birth or looking after a baby in HMP Holloway.

The panellists will also be joined by Joy Doal, project manager of The Anawin Project, as well as an Anawin project participant. The charity works with women in and out of prison across Birmingham, who are affected by prostitution, drug addiction and domestic violence.

The panel will take place today at 6pm. Green Party conference continues until the 13th of September at the Birmingham Conservatoire, B3.

Update: The Green Party later at conference passed new policy for inclusion in its Policies for a Sustainable Society. It supports reform in the treatment of women in the prison system in line with the recommendations of the report of Baroness Corston, which has since been backed by the Howard League for Penal Reform, the Prison Reform Trust, the Fawcett Society, and many other groups from civil society.

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