A Huffington Post contributor argued this week that only men should go to prison.
Huffington Post UK contributor Deborah Coles argued this week that prisons are ill-equipped to handle the complex needs of women. As such, only men should be sent to prison.
Coles based her argument on Baroness Jean Corston’s independent review of women in United Kingdom prisons. Corston’s report, which was published in 2007, concluded that imprisonment for women should be “almost entirely phased out.”
Corston’s ground-breaking report, published in March 2007, offered a blueprint for change. The review recommended the dismantling of the women’s prison estate, the introduction of small custodial units and an expansion of gender-specific support in the community, through a network of women’s centres. It was expected that the use of imprisonment for women could be reduced to an ‘absolute minimum’ and was hoped that women’s imprisonment could be almost entirely phased out. At the time there was great optimism that positive change was imminent.
Coles highlighted that 94 women have died in UK prisons since 2007. Many of the deaths were the result of self-inflicted wounds. Coles argues that UK prisons aren’t equipped to protect women who are a danger to themselves.
The column essentially argues that it’s unfair to send women to prison because they face a myriad of social issues outside of prison. Coles even argues this point explicitly. To Coles, many prison sentences imposed on women are unfair because they were already oppressed by British society.
Time and again inquests reveal that a prison sentence imposed by the courts was an inappropriate response to women already facing a range of social, health and economic inequalities. The persistence and repetition of the same issues reveals nothing less than a glaring failure of government to act. While ministers continue to drag their heels on the women’s justice strategy, which was due in 2017, women continue to die.