UNLOCK's the Record present The Women’s Issue – Sex and the System
15/10/2012 at 12:59 PM #1691
November 2012 sees the first ever ‘women’s only’ edition of the Record guest edited by Farah Damji, and endorsed by Martina Cole, with an exclusive interview of Martina.
For the first time ever, fabulous femme ex-offenders will share their untold stories in the monthly magazine by UNLOCK, The National Association of Reformed Offenders.
The issue will highlight the way systemic abuse and entrenched violence in our public institutions and our personal lives impacts against women. We’re talking about violence in all its forms. domestic abuse, financial exclusion, the media’s portrayal of female defendants, punitive sentencing, exclusion by enforced separation of the children of female offenders and their families by women being incarcerated hundreds of miles from their communities and roots.
Some of the ways we will examine what needs to change is by looking at first hand accounts of women prisoners’ stories, through their voice and art and case studies so, if you have any experience or thoughts about how we can effectively put together a magazine which will seek to address.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Care not custody
the mental health needs of female defendants, for diversion into community based services to deal with lifelong trauma, discrimination and victimisation. 67% of women in prison have at least one identifiable mental disorder. Diversion was promised as a joint initiative with the Department of Health in April 2011, not enough has been done to effect change or policy.
The lack of safe bail accommodation.
Over half of women entering custody each year do so on remand. These women spend an average of four to six weeks in prison and nearly 60% do not go on to receive a custodial sentence
Disproportionately punitive sentencing for female defendants.
In the last decade the women’s prison population has gone up by 33%. In 1995 the mid-year female prison population was 1,979. In 2000 it stood at 3,355 and in 2007 it was 4,283. Today it is 4,800. Most women serve very short sentences. In 2009 61% were sentenced to custody for six months or less. 27% of women in prison had no previous convictions – more than double the figure for men
Suffer the children
Punishment of children of low level female offenders. 66% of women prisoners are mothers, and each year it is estimated that more than 17,700 children are separated from their mothers by imprisonment. 37% of women lose all their possessions and their homes whilst they are in prison, they are more likely to be locked up for low level, non violent crimes than men. Prison should be the last resort.
The financial case for reformation
The cost of keeping a woman in custody is in excess of £56 000 per year. The average cost of a community sentence is £750 – £1000. Community Sentences have consistently delivered better outcomes in reducing reoffending in women. The long term cost to society of a woman with a one year prison sentence is over £10 million over ten years (nef report Unlocking Value)
Measures to prevent unnecessary recall
To stop putting women in prison for breach and adding punitive fines and sentences in the case of breach. For breach of a rehabilitation order they can currently be fined a maximum £1,000. Clause 56 of the LASPO increases the maximum fine to £2,500.
About the Record
The Record is a fantastic free magazine produced by the award-winning charity UNLOCK, the National Association of Reformed Offenders. It’s written by reformed offenders, for reformed offenders. This issue is guest edited by Farah Damji, former prisoner, ex journalist. Reformed socialite now running a social lettings agency and campaigning for change in the way women in the criminal justice system are treated.
This issue will feature contributions for law-abiding people facing discrimination and inequality as a result of a criminal record and features:
ñPositive success stories from reformed offenders
ñLatest opportunities for reformed offenders, including job vacancies, volunteer positions, consultation opportunities and upcoming events;
ñInformation, advice and recent news that relates to reformed offenders.
The newsletter regularly shines a spotlight on the discrimination faced by reformed offenders – people who are now law-abiding but who have a previous criminal record. Contributors are proud to have had the opportunity to contribute, and readers love the publication’s unique and insightful spin on life as a person with (a) conviction.
We do look forward to hearing from you, please get in touch.
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