Prisons in the press – 27 November

Jail closures, transgender prisoners and Miss Criminal 2015 in this week’s news

Holloway Prison in London

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Prisons in the press brings you the best articles from the past week to keep you up-to-date on prison news.

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Hot off the press

Europe’s largest female prison, HMP Holloway, is earmarked for closure. In his Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced that the prison – which has been open since 1852 – is set to close to make way for housing on valuable land in North London. Inmates will be moved to Bronzefield women’s prison and former men’s prison of Downview. The Independent has the full story.

In context

Justice Secretary Michael Gove has said many old Victorian prisons will be sold and the land used to build houses.

Prison inspectors have previously highlighted the Holloway’s location as being a “major strength” allowing women to be held close to their families, but have also admitted that the jail’s size and poor design made it difficult to run.

Mr Gove said:

“This will allow women to be held in an environment that is more appropriate for many of those currently sent to Holloway. Both provide a better setting for children visiting their mothers.”

In the Autumn Statement Chancellor George Osbourne also announced that Britain’s prisons are going to further enhance mobile phone blocking technology they use in order to prevent criminals from accessing the internet and having unauthorised conversations. Read more here.

To find out more about the history of Holloway prison, including some of its most famous inmates, click here.

 

 

Revealed this week 

  1. Peers back reform for transgender prisoners following the death of Vicky Thompson (we brought you the details in last week’s Prisons in the Press). Speaking in the House of Lords, Liberal Democrat Baroness Barker used the tragedy to call for a change in government policy. The BBC has the full story.
  2. Sheriff labels inmate a coward for attacking a Perth prison guard with boiling water. Anthony Elliot, 23, mixed sugar with scalding water at HMP Low Moss prison before throwing it over the guard as he served the prisoners evening meal. The Courier has more.
  3. The use of legal highs in prison is “getting worse by the day” and is leading to an increased risk of violence and even deaths. Nick Hardwick says there has been a seven-fold increase in the number of prisoners seeking help for addition to legal highs in the last year alone. Inspectors, inmates and people working with drug addicts are particularly concerned about the rise in the use of “Spice”  – also known as “green crack” because of how addictive it is – which is said to be “everywhere”. BBC’s Newsbeat has the story.
  4. Fire breaks out at women’s prison after a bin was set alight in a cell. Crews from Chertsey, Staines, Egham and Sunbury were called to Bronzefield women’s prison in Ashford on Tuesday morning, just weeks after it was revealed (in 23rd October Prisons in the Press) that £32,000 was spent on putting out deliberate fires at HMP Stafford alone. Read more here.

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Debated this week

Tory MP Philip Davies says more women should be sent to prison to achieve equality with men. Mr Davies says men are discriminated against because they receive longer and more frequent custodial sentences than women for the same category of crimes. The Independent has the full story.

While The Guardian’s Mary O’Hara says we should look to the US and reduce the number of women in prisons. She reports that “reformist moves are in the air” in the UK and that a “shift of focus towards gender aspects of imprisonment” will identify and address the needs of women (mothers in particular), that may be better served by alternatives to custody. The Guardian has more.

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In other news  

She’s 27, she’s been behind bars since 2010, and she’s serving 39 years for robbery: this week the winner of Miss Criminal 2015 was announced. Michelle Neri Rangel won the annual pageant held at one of the toughest women’s prisons in the world,  Talavera Bruce women’s prison in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Mirror has the full story.


One Comment on “Prisons in the press – 27 November”

  1. […] Second transgender woman found dead just weeks after the suspected suicide of Vicky Thompson. The Mirror reports that Joanne Latham was found hanged by a prison officer at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes last Friday. Her death comes a week after peers backed reform of the treatment of transgender prisoners (we brought you the details in last week’s Prisons in the Press. […]

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