Women In Prison ‘Debate’
Halsbury Law Exchange is a Think Tank. I'm never entirely sure what that means as there
is demonstrably little actual thinking done. Anyway, they are hosting a panel debate on
November 11th on Women In Prison. Out of the eleven members of HLE, only one is a
woman so this inspires pretty much zero confidence that any subject specifically relating to women will be approached with understanding, knowledge and depth.
The speakers on the panel read like a page from Debretts; not least The Right Honourable Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers. I imagine that he has a great deal of experience of working with women who have been in prison. Perhaps I underestimate him?
Aside from the fact that, yet again, we have a male dominated panel speaking on issue SPECIFICALLY relating to women, I also have to raise the point that they're discussing subject that I'm pretty sure women have already covered.
Let me see... Baroness Corston ring any bells? She undertook an extensive report in to the experiences of women in Styal Prison following a number of suicides. She also covered the specific pathways into criminality for women, and produced a set of recommendations that, if adopted*, would change the experiences of women offenders significantly.
Quite aside from the Corston Report, there are a number of organisations which campaign constantly about women in prison. They undertake research, produce reports and are active in challenging the conditions, treatment and interventions delivered to those women.
Yet again, we have men debating women's issues. Yes I'm well aware that there are two women on the panel but why not five? Do you honestly think they couldn't find any more women experienced enough to talk about this? I don't think so.
This event won’t change anything for women in prison. It will simply be some very posh, well educated men talking about how they can either a) save women, or b) punish them more.
* The follow-up to the Corston Report can be accessed here. It is safe to say that successive governments have kicked this issue into the long grass.