The harms women face are widespread yet consistently ignored. Many criminal justice interventions and support services serve to replicate and reinforce unequal gender relations rather than tackle the root causes of harm. Women facing criminalisation and gender based violence are repeatedly failed by society.
We need to think about and develop social interventions that get to the root of these problems. We are calling on others to work with us to challenge structural inequality and eradicate punishment and control in women's lives.
You can read the call to action in full and sign it here.
We support the call to action to empower women, resist injustice and transform lives because...
At WomenCentre we work with women on issues that both cause and create chaos and hopelessness in their lives. These issues include housing, debt, dependencies, health issues, trauma, parenting and abuse and often are reasons that women break the law. I therefore strongly support this call to action as a means to urgently needed social justice for women.
Clare Jones, National Lead, WomenCentre
We have wasted too much money and too many lives. It's time for a radical rethink and a system that really delivers justice for all of us.
Davina James-Hanman, Director, Ava
At last – a real chance to escape the bonds of the criminal justice ‘silo’ debates on what needs to be done ‘to’ and ‘for’ women to change their lives and ameliorate the impact of the harms experienced. It is surely time to shift the focus: to challenge and change the structural inequalities that constrain and damage women’s lives, preventing those harms and negative outcomes in the first place’
For too long we have tried to triage a broken justice system with the same thinking that created its problems. I am delighted to support this fresh initiative that breaks out of silos, takes account of the bigger picture and offers the chance for a fundamental change to how our society engages with women who are often considered to be at its margins. It gives me hope that we can work together to create a truly just society.
A great initiative which is attempting to join the dots of women's inequality across society, and challenge the continuing failures of the state in their policy making.
Wider society needs to wake up to the harm caused by the criminalisation of women, many of whom have experienced victimisation, harm and marginalisation. Let us stand up with and for all the mothers, sisters and daughters in prison.
Becky Clarke, Senior Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University
The criminal justice system is part of a continuum of violence against women. As a society, we need to build solutions that focus on social justice and reject punishment and control.
Rebecca Roberts, Senior Policy Associate, Centre for Crime and Justice Studies
We need to address the root causes of inequality not punish people for their disadvantage.
Laurel Townhead, Policy & Campaigns Manager, Women in Prison
I am involved in research around working with women in the CJS (because I feel it's important!).
Rachel Goldhill, Senior Lecturer, University of Portsmouth
The current penalisation/criminalisation process is damaging, counter-productive and ineffective.
The treatment of women in these institutions can be degrading, humiliating and an extension to the social deprivation the have experienced in the outside world. How we as a society expect people to stop committing crime by punishment rather than behavioral modification and care is beyond me.
Nicola James, Research Executive, Ipsos Mori Social Research Institute
For too long, women have been silenced on issues that affect them. We must acknowledge the pathways into offending for women and girls and accept that to provide a response that allows them recovery, we must be trauma-informed and gender-responsive. We must not fail yet another generation of women and girls.
Instead of getting the support they need and deserve, women who are already marginalised in a society that fails them are unfairly punished in the criminal justice system.
Sofia Gullberg, Prison Advice Worker, Women in Prison
There are few other areas where there is so much evidence of inequality, so much knowledge to back up change and yet so little has been done.
Jennifer Blair, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
As a woman who has journeyed through the Criminal Justice System and received no support from any organisation due to my age (45) I heartily support this project to empower women to transform their lives and resist injustice. There are too few services for women in the justice system who are outside of the youth offending age range.
Tracey McMahon, Tracey McMahon Services Ltd
Challenging what underpins structural inequality should be fundamental and rooted in every aspect of our everyday work.
Helen Shaw, Co-director, Inquest
I agree with it all
Wendy Callaghan, WomenMATTA project Worker, Women in Prison
I work with women in prison by facilitating family learning workshops and setting up peer mentoring programmes and therefore prioritise their needs, offer support and see their potential.
Ellen Harris, Freelance trainer and consultant
Gender based violence is a hate crime which is currently not receiving appropriate funding, legal interventions and support for survivors. I would like to see highly skilled facilitators delivering healthy relationship programs in Primary Schools across the UK and would also like to see adequate support and provision for perpetrators to enable them to change the way they behave.
Rhona O'Brien, Lecturer, University of Cumbria
I believe that gender inequality is the most widespread and endemic inequality the world is facing today.
I want to see a future where we start treating people like people: supporting them to make changes they want to see rather than punishing them when times are already hard.
Women offenders and ex-offenders should be supported throughout the Criminal Justice System in ways which take into account the traumatic histories and levels of abuse which have impacted upon their lives. This should be taken into account throughout the entire system, from commissioning intentions through to support delivery. The impact of neglecting this has serious consequences which are far reaching in terms of fatalities and impact upon families and futures.
Rebecca Gomm, PhD Student
Women in prison are often there for petty crime, substance misuse as a result of not being able to cope with the impact of all forms of violence against them. They end up separated from the children and punished for not being able to cope with the abuse that they have suffered. There is a need for support services at every level including, supported housing, family support, education, financial management, living independently, legal services, therapeutic communities, rehabilitation centres, counselling. support needs to be available to help women understand and believe that they can turn their lives around and make positive choices for the future.
Kinnari Kansara, Counsellor, Women in Prison
I believe in rehabilitation rather than punishment.
I fully support the ethos behind this work, and beleive that the core aim of empowering women, resisting injustice and transforming lives is crucuial. Many women and justice would be better served by alternative mthods and long term rehabilitation and sustainaibility of ex offending would be more effective.
Tracey Hylton, EditHER of SHEquality Matters Magazine
I support this call to action as I believe in prevention not punishment, I also believe that all women need to be empowered and Inspired. Women's voices need to be heard and their needs supported to transform their lives and their families.
Lisa Samuel, Life Coach and Managing Director, ME1 Positive Personal Development Ltd
Women deserve real justice.
I support this call to action as all too often I see young girls and women escalated through the Criminal Justice System when more effective and appropriate solutions would achieve better outcomes for all. Addressing the needs of young women at an early stage should be part of the Public Sector Reform that we are striving for. Use public money more wisely to get them out and keep them out of the criminal justice system especially when they are young.
Marie McLaughlin, Head of Youth Offending Service, Manchester City Council
I have studied the treatment of women in the criminal justice system since the 1980s and supported various initiatives to improve their treatment. This initiative recognises that offending and being sucked into the criminal justice system is usually a direct result of the deep social deprivation these women experience. It also recognises that we need to work beyond the criminal justice system to improve their life chances and choices, including their chances of avoiding offending.
Professor Carol Hedderman
This horribly brutal, exploitative system should be abolished. There are better ways to turn a profit than parasiting off more vulnerable human beings. Instead of building a prison, build a hospital, or a school, or university, or a space station. Where is their imagination? The Prison Industrial Complex, by stealth, is introducing a new slavery, far more insidious then the old. If we do not resist now, the future of the human race will be dystopian indeed. People are being imprisoned for the most trivial of transgressions as part of the growth of the new slavery. When they come to sieze you, it will be too late!
Dr Lynne Wrennall, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Liverpool John Moores University
Even in the 21st century the gender gap is still in existence. A shift in culture and ideology is still required.
Joanne Massey, Senior Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University
I want women's voices to be heard.
Action and support in society — regarding abuse, mental illness, poverty, educational underattainment, poor housing, substance misuse — could keep so many women out of prison.
Clare Sambrook, Journalist
The needs and differences of women in comparison to their make counterparts are largely ignored within the CJS. Women should help other women to Stamp out the inequality and discrimination that we face.
Toni O'Hara, Family Support Worker, POPS
Women offenders already suffer from a multiplicity of disadvantage and discrimination. Criminal justice interventions, particularly imprisonment, simply enforce and replicate this.
It is the right thing to do. I heard a paper given at a conference yesterday on the systematic abuse of strip search procedures against women in prison and it horrified me. Women suffer physical, emotional and symbolic violence in society and the focus of our attention should be on changing these issues rather than locking women up and/or punishing them for their disadvantage in other punitive ways.
Women have been treated unequally for too long.
Existing paradigms are largely constructed of male interpretation of women's experience.
Geoffrey Curl, Refugee Worker
It is common sense, long overdue, and change will only happen if we mobilise and work together.
Jackie Russell, Director, Women's Breakout
Startup's clear aim is to support women who have been in prison into self-employment, allowing them to become financially viable and get back to their families and community. They need as much support as they can get and right now the emphasis from the CJS seems to be on punishment, not encouragement. The team at Startup supports this initiative to find ways to empower women, resist injustice and transform their lives.
Juliet Mary Hope, Chief Executive, Startuponline Ltd (Startup)
It is important that we continue to work together to establish workable, sustainable and appropriate solutions that challenge the passive, 'always done it this way' approach, and, that this work, changes perceptions; enabling women to release any shackles of their past and, to step forward, trust themselves and have the courage to embark on the next part of their journey.
I agree wholeheartedly with the issues and concerns raised and I strongly believe that the issues are systemic and structural and it is at the root that that we need to make changes.
Sophie Gibson, Inspire Operational Manager, Brighton Women's Centre
We've taken some steps forward in terms of developing more gender responsive services but there is still a long way to go and a risk that things could slide backwards. Violence against women is still minimised by the media and we do not do enough to recognise the links between trauma and women's offending.
Melanie Jeffs, Centre Manager, Nottingham Women's Centre
For too long the social and economic circumstances driving girls and women into the criminal justice system have been ignored. I welcome this call for transformation following decades of failed policy for vulnerable women, children and families.
Jackie Lowthian, Director, Social Justice Solutions
Every day we are seeing how women are disproportionately treated within the Criminal Justice System and how this affects their lives and the lives of the children. We can make women's criminal justice issues, robust, proportionate and effective for women. We need to be brave and bold and to have decision makers hear and understand women`s voices.
Helen Hird, Manager, WomenCentre Calderdale & Kirklees
In order to transform lives these issues are relevant and real. We are a service in Luton that works with women which is why we support your action. There has been progress but way too much is still to be done.
Karen Godfrey, Project Director, Stepping Stones (Luton) CIC
Women face particular difficulties interacting with criminal justice systems and the impact of criminalisation is often more severe, not only on women themselves, but also on families and communities. Developing social interventions and support systems would not only avoid these negative impacts, but could also address the causes behind women's offending in a way that is often outside the scope of the criminal justice system.
Triona Lenihan, Research and Communications Intern, Penal Reform International
Thousands of women are needlessly penalised and imprisoned each year, causing irreparable and unnecessary damage to their lives, as well as the lives of their children, family and friends.
Jessica Southgate, Youth Participation Officer, Howard League for Penal Reform
Women's rights and needs are not truly represented in the current system which is therefore failing them at every turn.
Kirsty McGregor, Doctoral Candidate, University of Manchester
The criminal justice system doesn't always treat women equally in the administration of punishment once they are convicted of crimes. And women may be taken advantage by Law Enforcement simply because of their maternal dispositions.
I support all women
Women continue to be used, abused and commodified. Much has been achieved but much more needs to change. This is everybody's business.
Sarah Swindley, CEO, Lancashire Women's Centres
The criminal justice system has been developed by men for men and is not currently equipped to address the needs of women.
Ama Dixon, Project Officer, NIACE
See my books.
Professor Pat Carlen
I support a fair justice system for all.
We need to tackle and change the root causes that put people and their families into a restrictive cycle that prevents change!
Darren Knight, Development Manager, Shelter - Inspiring Change Manchester
Many women face systemic and deeply damaging inequalities that shape their lives. It is wrong and unjust that for the most vulnerable women we respond to this with the criminal justice system.
Carlie Goldsmith, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Kingston University
I categorically believe we are not doing the right thing for women in the criminal justice system. Prison for most of them is not the answer, nor is punishment without appropriate, often long-term, support which is badly needed. The women and girls who enter the criminal justice system hold the key to stopping another generation of young offenders - we can't afford to ignore their needs.
Roma Hooper, Criminal Justice Advisor
There are far too many women receiving short custodial sentences for non violent offences. These sentences are punitive and not rehabilitative. To address this, I have set up a problem solving court for females at risk of custody and the support from the magistrates, legal advisors and solicitors has been overwhelming. We are directly diverting women from custody and empowering them to address the problems they know are linked to their decision to offend.
Fiona Deacon, Probation Officer, NPS
Numerous women, including those with dependent children, are in prison for non violent offences. A large percentage of women in the prisons have been abused and / or suffer with addiction. There is an unacceptably high level of suicide and self harm in women's prisons. It is clear that imprisoning women for non violent offences is not an effective use of public money and causes huge social and financial costs
Women facing criminalisation and gender based violence are repeatedly failed by society.
As the Chair of one of the largest and best known Women's Centres in England, I am aware of the desperate need for more humane and positive interventions in women's lives when they are in trouble and distress. I am also conscious of the fact that current government and agency interventions are being severely limited by funding constraints and we are putting the clock back by taking away excellent services that have been developed over many years.
Startup supports female ex-offenders into self-employment to enable them to become financially viable and build up their self-esteem. This also enables them to rebuild their family life and to become a valued member of the community. The women need as much support as they can get and currently the emphasis from the CJS appears to be on punishment not encouragement. Startup support this initiative to find ways to empower women, resist injustice and transform their lives.
Gill Ryan, Client Manager, Startup
INQUEST’s thirty years of working on the deaths of women in prison has led us to the inescapable conclusion that there is the need for abolition of prison for women as the dominant form of punishment for women in conflict with the law and investment in radical community based alternatives and support that address the complex reasons behind why women enter the criminal justice system – poverty, inequality, homelessness, addictions, mental and physical ill health and sexual and physical abuse. Decisive and radical action is needed now to completely overhaul the way women in conflict with the law are treated and finally end the catalogue of pain, punishment, self harm and, ultimately, deaths of women that continue to shame our prison system.
Deborah Coles, Co-Director, INQUEST
Women need more support, not more punishment. Isn't that obvious by now? How much will do we have to get it right and stop trying to control people in the name of 'justice' and start addressing the root causes of the problems women face?
Locking women up in prison is clearly not the answer and as a society we should have learned this by now. The root cause's behind a womens 'offending behaviour' are multipal and complex and require a 'joined up' approach involving Health, DWP, Housing and yes in some case's the CJS. Community solutions are required which can cater for these needs, including supported accommodation which serves as both a place of safety for the woman and indeed provides 'time out' from those situations and circumstances which are contributing to the some of the concerning and indeed dangerous behaviours that can bring a women to the attention of the CJS.
Patricia Thomas, CEO, Liverpool Church of England Council for Social Aid
It is the right thing to do and the right time to do it.
I believe women deserve better.
It is long overdue.
I want to work towards a world with less inequality and fewer injustices.
Criminal justice interventions continuously and more and more ignore the needs of women.
Una Barr, PhD researcher
We have been complacent about gender equality, ignoring the discrimination and disadvantage which women face daily, and it is time to recognise the need for change and to act.
Women's pathways into crime are gendered; the victimisation, marginalisation, intolerable burdens of responsibility that contribute to offending-related problems cannot be understood in isolation from the fact they are women. In the CJS women continue to be infantilised; done 'to' instead of 'with' - and it is not working.
Madeline Petrillo, Senior Lecturer, University of Portsmouth
It is time that violence against women and girls was seen as a failure of our society and stopped. Women who, sometimes in the aftermath of abuse, offend, should be recognised as in need of help and support and not punished, when we have failed them by not intervening to stop the abuse in the first place.
Vera Baird, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria
I am fully aware of the injustice women face, being imprisoned for first offences and being imprisoned for offences that men manage to avoid conviction. Furthermore I am equally aware of the fact that many women commit crimes as victims of domestic violence or are coerced by their partners who they feel unable to break away from. We offered the Ministry of Justice the answer to providing cohesive nationwide through the gate support, adopting all the recognitions and specifics needed to give comprehensive support for women, but owing to the ambitions of Transforming Rehabilitation and the Minister proposing it, sadly we had no option but to abandon the scheme owing to the fact funders are unwilling to fund additionally and within the Transforming Rehabilitation proposals mentoring is now pledged to be part of the government delivery.
I have worked in probation and policing for many years and am so disappointed that the debate on addressing the position and provision for women in the criminal justice system moves so slowly. Perhaps the implications of privatization in transforming rehabilitation will galvanize some activity.
This is a deeply underacknowledged and under worked with area of criminal justice and we need to work in ways that are more about transformative and restorative approaches that support women with healing and empowering them in their relationship with their self and others rather than locking them up. My work with families of previous domestic violence to support awareness of the emerging theme of child to parent violence.. and alternative ways to work with parents and teens involved in this painful cycle to empower (often single mums with domestic violence backgrounds) to have non-violent relationships and working to break the cycle of family violence... not ignore it, or blame or shame those involved in it.
Lynette Robinson, Founder of Alternative Restoratives
I have work with women effected by the criminal justice system for over 5 years. I think that its time to speak out and call for REAL transformation.
Clare Cowper, Safe Choices Coordinator, nia
Women need services which meet their needs and can address the gender specific inequalities leading to injustice and support and empower them to live fulfilled lives.
Gemma Fox, Managing Director, North Wales Women's Centre
I am incredibly passionate about making change for women caught up in the cycle of offending and abuse. I have worked for a number of years supporting these vulnerable women and supporting change through developments. My research is also focused on young women and crime and i want to help support any initiative that also feels the same. we need justice for women.
Davina Patel, PhD Researcher, Loughborough University
Some people still believe we live in an equal society.....we don't. We may never be able to make it an equal society but as a woman I will give my commitment to anything and everything that fights to empower women.
Michelle Davidson Beck
Women that make use of our support services have mostly had abusive childhoods. Then as adults have then entered very abusive relationships, who continue to abuse and use them. Often leading them into a life of drug taking and offending. WE HAVE to start offering an alternatives to prison for these women to brake the cycle and unfairness! The services that would make a difference to women caughtup in the criminal justice system, can be made avilable if there was a committment to fund them. They would then be available as a diversion from prison. The average cost of such services, is at least £4,000 per week per woman less than the cost of a week in prison. If you then add on the savings both financially and socially of children not being placed in care and stopping them from becoming the next broken generation it must make sense to enable the alternatives to prison to be funded!
Gill Arukpe, CEO, Penrose
The Women and Girls at Risk Alliance Transitional Steering Group supports this call to empower women, resist injustice and transform lives. Our vision is for all women and girls to have access to services which recognise and respond to their experiences as women, as survivors of abuse and trauma and as agents of change in their own lives and in the wider world.
Women and Girls at Risk Alliance Transitional Steering Group
The women who come to our Women's Centre are in the first instance broken, in pain, isolated and rather than punishing them for this, we should be offering them the emotional support they need.
Trisha Brooks, Probation Officer CRC, London CRC
Injustice needs to be minimised.
Having gone through the criminal justice system as an older woman with health issues the impact of a prison sentence on family life and any future prospects of work is incredibly emotional and daunting.
Lita Tidman, Mental Health Link Worker, Penrose Options
Gender inequality within the criminal justice system means that women rarely find legal redress and justice in relation to the crimes committed against them. Cuts in services and funding for women's organisations in the community mean that women also do not get support and prevention services helping them sufficiently to prevent them ending up within the criminal justice system.
Kinnari Kansara, Counsellor, Women in Prison
To date the system has failed and stigmatised women who need support and empowerment; an overhaul is long overdue.
Val Freeman, Pecan
Women get a raw deal - that's it!!
Teresa Marshall, Careers Adviser, Pecan
Greater equality and justice for women? Sounds like a right, not a call to action.
It’s a needed cause.
Lisa Hubbard, Housing Officer, Working Chance
Education of younger boys and men is urgently required to prevent continuing immature and dangerous attitudes regarding their female counterparts as sex objects. In addition the co system has never managed an imaginative attitude to women offenders.
Many women in prison have already been punished by life; they are also victims of crime, punishing them again in prison doesn't work, isn't right and shouldn't be happening. We know from Baroness Corston's work that domestic violence and sexual abuse forms the backdrop to so many imprisoned women's lives. They need more programmes in the community to deal with DV/sexual abuse/drugs and alcohol whilst also enabling them to focus on the positives in their lives, their innate talents and strengths, their children and positive relationships. They need access to education and skills’ training that is meaningful, not simply a few tick-box questionnaires that satisfy education providers. It's not really complex, it's really, really obvious. We all know it works. We don't know why it isn't happening. Instead, we are wasting millions by imprisoning women who shouldn't be incarcerated, they don't need prison. Prison should be a place of last resort; it's not the answer for most women.
Sheila Brazil, Trusts Fundraising Manager, Prisoners Education Trust
I currently work with women offenders and our work is proving to be really successful. Many repeat offenders are responding really positively to the support and intervention that we provide, however there needs to be further funding to allow this work to continue. I am also noticing the large number of women that are being charged with assaulting a police officer once they are brought into custody. This needs to be looked into as all the women that I speak to say it was due to the harsh physical unsympathetic handling by the police when arrested.
Vicky Hemmingway, Independent Women’s Practitioner, Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (Cornwall)
Women with backgrounds and histories of abuse are massively over represented within the criminal justice system and for some it is their experience of violence or abuse that has directly caused/ led to their involvement in crime. The criminal justice system is failing women by not protecting them from violence and abuse in the first instance and it continues to fail them by punishing them for the ways they cope with, resist and respond to the violence and abuse they are subjected to. Now is the time not just to recognise the relationship between violence against women and women's involvement in crime but to actively address it by providing support, not punishment or stigmatisation, to address the root causes of women's involvement in crime.
Jo Roberts, PhD Student
In my work I see the stark difference between men and women in the criminal justice system - the difference in societies' tolerance and the immense mountains women have to climb in order to live the productive, fulfilled, active and positive lives many long to live. The cycle within families with mothers receiving custodial sentences and children being taken into care leaves a long term damaging legacy that wrecks lives and causes untold suffering. In the writing group I ran at HMP Eastwood Park the women poured their pain, hopes, longings, fear and dreams into pieces of such richness. I would love to allow their voice to be heard and will put my name to anything that fights for these women.
Ruth Chitty, The Forgiveness Project
I am ex-prisoner and now a researcher, exploring the experiences of maternal incarceration for imprisoned mothers and their children in Ireland. The lack of understanding by the general public regarding the huge challenges faced by women who end of involved in the criminal justice system is worrying. If people had better knowledge of the issues women in particular face, they would be more supportive towards change and ultimately reducing recidivism rates.
Sinead O'Malley, Doctoral Researcher, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre
Inequality for women continues to pervade our society and women in the criminal justice system continue to face unequal treatment.
Elizabeth Matthews, Development Manager, Women's Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre
I believe in empowering women and creating an understanding of how to work with women and their families which takes account of gender inequality and fights to change it.
Anna Mitchell, Domestic Abuse Lead Officer, City of Edinburgh Council
We need to advance gender equality. I have read and agree with the Corston report.
Patrick Jumbe, Equalities Manager, NPS
I believe women who report crimes of sexual violence are still discriminated by the whole Criminal Justice System in the way they are treated and cross examined at court.
Laura Gomez, Referral and Support Line Coordinator, North London Rape Crisis
Society needs to stand up and recognise the harms that women face; it needs to begin to tackle the root causes instead of reinforcing unequal gender relations. It's time that gender relations, as well as society, changed.
Natalie Davies, Graduate
The current system does not work and society needs to find a more holistic, therapeutic, compassionate response to the offenders which is constructive, consistent and creative.
Andrea Farley-Moore, Project Manager, Pecan
I continue to read government rhetoric in relation to a positive focus on the incarceration of women, with the suggestion that these women remain high on the political agenda. When in reality we see a constant stream of vulnerable women being imprisoned, despite the empirical research to show that imprisonment does not work, imprisonment is totally devastating for society and imprisonment only serves to produce future inmates from the women who are unable to escape their destructive histories and from the children who are traumatised by the experience of having an imprisoned mother.
There is a clear need to rethink our criminal 'no-justice' system, and the issues women who offend confront are a significant part of this thinking.
Kay Wall, Lecturer in Social Work Studies, North East Worcestershire College
Those of us working inside the system need to dream bigger.
Women deserve equality in every area of their life.
Jude Long, Training and events coordinator, AVA
I am a passionate advocate of women's rights, social justice and equality and oppose all forms of gendered violence.
Rhona O’Brein, Lecturer, University of Cumbria
Women have so much more to lose socially once they enter in the criminal justice system. The cycle needs to be broken.
Sharon Burton, Mentor, Pecan
Violence against women and girls has been neglected too often and needs to be properly resourced not just to support women and girls facing violence but also to develop intervention, especially among young women and young men, to tackle it at the roots of what causes violence.
One woman is killed every two days by her violent partner, and she has usually complained about her partner's violence. These are the women who are now at even greater risk with the closure of refuges.
Caroline White, Social Anthropologist
Firstly, for reasons of social justice and secondly, because all of the relevant empirical evidence supports it.
Lizzie Seal, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of Sussex
Equality does benefit everyone, yet we still have a lot to do to make society equal.
Amanda Robinson, Reader in Criminology, Cardiff University
It is the right thing to do!
T Rourke, SWIT/Social Worker, Empathy
I think it essential to extricate the issue from the (relatively) limited prism of criminal justice and place it where it belongs, i.e. within social justice.
Martine Lignon, Chair and Trustee, Prisoners Advice Service/Women in Prison
Women continue to be marginalised and criminalised at ever increasing rates. Structural inequalities need to be addressed and acted upon.
Kathryn Chadwick, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Manchester Metropolitan University
The criminal justice system does not currently serve women but instead compounds inequalities, harm and violence in various forms.
Heather McRobie, OpenDemocracy
It is important we bring about some systemic change which will include preventative and reparative gender-specific work. We need to start viewing the impact of failure across generations and systems rather than as individual flaws and needs.
Eva Roussou, Project Coordinator - Women’s Lead, Together for Mental Wellbeing
I have spent many years working in a youth offending team, where girls have been labelled as risky, promiscuous, manipulative etc. The lack of professional understanding about the different needs of girls in the Youth Justice System, and their pathways into offending needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The one size fits all approach is failing girls and young women.
Because women in the criminal justice system are some of the most disadvantaged, the development of non custodial disposals for women offenders has not resulted in fewer women going to prison, the recommendations of the Corston Review that women's prisons should be replaced with small residential centres have not been implemented and public sector cuts as a result of austerity have disproportionately affected women.
Polly Radcliffe, Research Fellow, Kings College
I have seen female friends punished for hideous crimes committed to them. Something has to be wrong with a justice system that time and time again produces such appalling outcomes. Enough is enough.
Ruth Waters, Law Student
Women need help: women are often hard to help. Punishing women is often punishing families and children.
It acknowledges the need for greater equality and justice for women within the criminal justice system; and for women in general. It also challenges the perspectives and work practices of professionals working with women.
I have worked with women in criminal and social justice for over 20 years one way or another and am now undertaking specific research around mothers & prison. Sentencing women to custody is almost always unnecessary. The impact emotionally , psychologically and financially for women, children and society in general is vast and far reaching. This is too important and too damaging for there not to be change. I have suggested proposals for how in the 1st instance in CL &J.
Lucy Baldwin, Senior Lecturer, De Montfort University
As a man I feel it is important to show that I recognise gender inequality.
Jamie Rossi-Stephenson, Environment Agency
I believe women should be treated equally in all areas of society, but the criminal justice system does not currently do this. The change of focus from punishment to support and prevention that this call to action offers is crucial to producing real change in this area.
I have spoken with women labelled as 'persistent' and 'prolific' offenders, yet on engaging with their lived experience of this phenomenon, it became clear that the most persistent and prolific aspect of their life was being repeated failed by the criminal justice system, and its satellite 'support' agencies, to empower and effectively support them out of offending; conversely, it was more likely to block their pathways out of the vicious cycle of addiction, re-criminalisation, and re-incarceration which had ensnared them. The CJS needs to take a hard look in the mirror, and acknowledge that it is not reducing women's repeat criminalisation; it is PERPETUATING it. Women's lives cannot be transformed within the current system, which refuses to acknowledge the socially marginalised positions from which many female offenders come, and to which they will frequently return.
Serena Wright, Research Assistant, University of Cambridge
I believe in holistic approach to supporting women within criminal justice system and offering them support with improving their needs that may have led them to offending in the first place.
Liz Mikolap, Forensic Mental Health Practitioner, Together
The current use of the criminal justice system to deal with social problems is harmful, wasteful and ineffective. We need to develop better and more meaningful ways to prevent, intervene in and respond effectively to gender-based violence.
Sarah Lamble, Senior Lecturer in Law, Birkbeck, University of London
Alternative to custody orders work - I've been on an order myself. Getting to the core and working from there is key.
I agree that more needs to be done to tackle these issues.
Laura Mallows, Clean Break
I am currently researching the penal/welfare axis from the perspective of women's experiences. Women are marginalised and at a disadvantage in both penal and welfare systems.
Larissa Povey, PhD candidate, Sheffield Hallam University
The criminal justice system needs to turn into a criminal justice service, attuned to social justice. Vicky Pryce's book "Prisonomics" eloquently shows how women - and society as a whole - are poorly served by the current system.
Too many women have been failed.
The harm and injustice faced by women in the criminal justice system needs to be eradicated and real alternatives to increased punitivism examined.
Emily Hart, Lecturer in Criminology, Liverpool Hope University
The criminal justice system creates, perpetuates and punishes inequality and the suffering of violences, and women are often one of the most vulnerable groups to experience this. Overwhelming numbers of women in the criminal justice system have experience sustained and/or serious abuse or assault prior to entering it.
I am a woman
I totally support this and feel that women who are in the justice system should be treated fairly with the compassion and dignity that has been long over due. I feel women are getting a very rough deal in our justice system and it's about time their voices are heard properly.
There are far too many women in prison who should not be there.
Michele Burman, Professor of Criminology, University of Glasgow
Other signatories include:
- Bent Bars Project
- Marian Duggan, University of Kent
- Annie Stubley, Together
- Francesca Clayman, Together