Why fewer women should be in prison

February 28 2014

A REDLAND businesswoman has visited a prison in a bid to reduce women’s custodial sentences.

A REDLAND businesswoman has visited a prison in a bid to reduce women’s custodial sentences.
Helen Davies, who runs graphic design company For Effect, spoke to inmates at Eastwood Park in Wotton-under-Edge to learn more about life behind bars.
She was joined by Liz Corrigan and eight others from Soroptomist International – a service set up to improve the lives of women and girls in local communities worldwide.
The group is working with the Prison Reform Trust to end the "unnecessary imprisonment of women in the UK".
The married mum-of-two, who has also worked as a design technology teacher for over ten years, said: "Prison disrupts the lives of vulnerable women, most of whom pose no risk to the public.
"The women we spoke to told us about their everyday problems, such as getting changed without privacy, and said they believed they had changed."
Mrs Davies added: "I believe it’s foolish to break up families by sending women to prison – often far from their homes – for a non-violent crime.
"As a teacher and in my personal life I’ve seen children end up in care, which is very sad. A better outcome for women and their families would be the reduced use of prison and increased use of community alternatives."
Mrs Davies will be doing the design work for Soroptomist International's 80th conference.
In the UK, almost 14,000 women are sent to prison and more than 80 per cent are convicted for non-violent offences.
It is estimated over 17,000 children were separated from their mothers in 2010 by imprisonment. Evidence suggests it is harmful to the children and costs the state more than £17 million over a decade.
The Soroptomists, which has 90,000 member worldwide, believe women’s centres such as Eden House in Fishponds – a service for women who want to improve their lives – are better alternatives to prison.
Ms Corrigan, the president of Soroptomist International, said: "Rather than custody, many of these women could be safely managed in the community as they do not pose a significant risk of harm to the public. This would minimise the cost to the society but to do this we require more Women’s Centres."
For more information on the Soroptomists and their reducing women in prison campaign, visit: www.soroptimist-ukpac.org