Comment
29 May 2020

According to the same report, 16 prisoners have taken their own lives since the beginning of lockdown in late March.

Close to two prisoners kill themselves each week in England and Wales in 'normal' times, if, that is, imprisonment can be considered a normal thing to impose on a fellow human being. But we live, of course, in abnormal times, and this is as true of our prisons as anywhere else.

Comment
22 May 2020

This is the grim reality behind the apparent success, at least in the short-term, in preventing a devastating spread of coronavirus across the prison system.

Comment
21 May 2020

In England and Wales, as in many other countries, it has been roundly acknowledged that the number of people held in our overcrowded prison estate needs to be reduced to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Comment
15 May 2020

As Rona Epstein points out in this powerful piece, none of the numerous investigations set up into the death – at least seven by her reckoning – asked the most important question of all: why was this woman on remand in prison at all? Should, indeed, pregnant women be in prison?

Comment
14 May 2020

On 27 September 2019, a woman held in HMP Bronzefield on remand gave birth alone in her cell. When prison staff visited the woman’s cell in the morning the baby had died. Following this tragic event a number of investigations were set up, including:

Comment
11 May 2020

At least 11 European countries have restricted new arrivals into prison since March. As the grid below details, governments have opted to postpone or suspend new prison sentences for some, or in some jurisdictions, all of those sentenced to immediate custody.

Comment
8 May 2020

At the beginning of April, the government announced plans for the early release of up to 4,000 prisoners in England and Wales, to reduce prison overcrowding and slow the rate of infection among prisoners and staff.

The target was unambitious. The Prison Governors Association and Public Health England have argued that releasing 10,000 - 15,000 prisoners is needed. But it was a small step in the right direction.

Comment
7 May 2020

Prisons are cramped and unsanitary institutions, full of people with underlying health problems who receive inadequate healthcare whilst they’re incarcerated. They also increase the rate of spread in the community due to the daily through-flow of families and service providers visiting prisoners, staff clocking in and out, and prisoners starting and finishing custodial sentences.

Comment
2 May 2020

Whilst reading, I felt painfully constrained, thinking of whom I might include in this month’s post. To offset this anxiety, I decided to delve wistfully into some easy listening, mainly frothy, pop music hits from the 1980s online. As I was doing so I recognised the melodious voice and gimmicky backdrop of the singer in a particular video, who had subsequently passed through the portals of the probation office and whose supervision on licence I had undertaken.

Comment
1 May 2020

Earlier this week the government announced that the first 300 of a planned 500 'temporary, single occupancy cells' had been installed in nine prisons. Behind the euphemisms lies a stark reality. The 'temporary, single occupancy cells' are adapted shipping containers.

Comment
30 April 2020

As our director said at the beginning of the outbreak, if an institution was to be invented with the express intention of maximising the spread of coronavirus, and of concentrating it among those most likely to be vulnerable to it, that institution would probably look much like a prison.

Comment
24 April 2020

David Fathi, Director of the ACLU National Prison Project, is surely correct. Coronavirus poses a dreadful threat to prisoners. But prison staff can hardly be insulated from its effects.