Our May 2016 ebulletin is now available!

Tuesday, 31 May 2016


Reform prisons are a tragic distraction
Commenting on the government’s prison reform agenda, our Director Richard Garside said plans for reform prisons were a ‘tragic distraction from the big challenges of prison reform’. He was interviewed by John Humphries on BBC Radio 4 if you want to listen.

We also welcomed calls by a growing number of figures, including the Conservative Chair of the Justice Committee Bob Neill MP, for an urgent cut in the high prison population. 

Better responses to drug harms
We held an event exploring Portugal’s experience of decriminalising the possession of drugs for personal use and adopting a health-led approach to managing drug harms. One of the architects of this strategy, João Castel-Branco Goulão, spoke at the event.

Here’s an article by Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director of Release and one of the other speakers at the event, discussing how the UN is failing to embrace the movement towards drug decriminalisation among its member states. 

Social murder killing thousands each year
Our recent briefing by Professor Steve Tombs on the lack of effective regulation of pollution, food safety and workplace health and safety standards in the UK was covered by the BBC and The Observer. The Adam Smith Institute offered misplaced criticism of the briefing, and Professor Tombs responded.

Revolving doors
Also this month, we published a briefing by Dr David Whyte and Dr David Ellis about the revolving door between business and government, which featured in an article in the newspaper. The Guardian published a letter by our Deputy Director, Will McMahon, about the findings of the report. And you can listen to Will and Dave talk about it in a podcast for the Tax Justice Network. 

Read this little taster comment piece by Dr David Ellis and Dr David Whyte to get a sense of what their research is about. 

The Lammy Review: getting up stream of the problem
Our Deputy Director Will McMahon wrote this arguing that the Lammy Review into racism in the criminal justice system will fail to explain why black people are far more frequently criminalised if it only starts at the Crown Prosecution Service stage. The article will also be appearing in this month's edition of The Barrister magazine.

Justice Matters in Cardiff too! 
Our Senior Policy Associate Rebecca Roberts and Research Associate Helen Mills took our new Justice Matters: Creating change workshop out on the road to Cardiff. This time a group of students and practitioners studying youth and community work thought through short- and long-term solutions to a range of social problems that don’t rely on criminal justice interventions.

Spycops conference videos
You can now watch all the footage from the conference about police spying we held last month! We heard moving and passionate speeches from people directly affected by undercover policing, such as Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP. A statement was also read out from the former police officer and whistle-blower, Peter Francis.


Gove's reforms legitimating the pains of imprisonment
The prison reforms heralded as the ‘centre-piece’ of the Queen’s speech will briefly legitimise prisons in the face of the current crisis. The likelihood, however, is that they will be discarded and replaced by greater punitiveness once it subsides, argues J M Moore in his latest piece for us

The Lockerbie bombing and the search for justice
Kenny MacAskill talks about his decision to release the Lockerbie bomber in 2009.

Partners in crime
Criminal justice challenges require collaborative working across disciplines, with active academic-practitioner partnerships, argues Dr Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay.

Memoirs of a probation officer
Read Mike Guilfoyle’s latest reflections from his time as a probation officer.

Prison Service Journal
The latest Prison Service Journal (May 2016 No 225) focuses on the 'transformational potential' of prison education.


Gendered violence in activist communities
This event on Wednesday 21 September will mark the launch of a report and toolkit by the Salvage Research Project about gendered violence in activist communities. Their research explores the lived experiences of harm, violence and abuse experienced by women, non-binary and transgender people in radical activist communities in the UK. It will include a panel discussion of the key findings and implications for action and social justice.


Holloway site: build council housing not luxury flats
Friends over at the Reclaim Justice Network, in collaboration with Islington Kill the Housing Bill, organised a demonstration demanding the government build council housing rather than luxury flats on the site of Holloway Prison. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose constituency contains Holloway Prison, popped along to say a few words in support. Check out the Reclaim Holloway campaign website the Network set up after the demo.


30-40 - the number of times each month the National Tactical Response Group, a specialist team that quells serious incidents in prisons, was deployed between March and November 2015.

2,250 - the number of extra prison officers recruited when the Ministry of Justice went 'full throttle with a major recruitment programme' in 2015.
440 - the resulting net gain in prison officers. 

Source: House of Commons Justice Committee report into prison safety


'The Ministry hoped that prison safety would stabilise. In reality, it has deteriorated further and continues to do so. This is a matter of great concern and improvement is urgently needed.' Bob Neill MP, Chair of the House of Commons Justice Committee, in a statement on the committee's report on prison safety.

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