Female offenders to be jailed only when guilty of violent crime – Ministry of Justice
Female offenders will be put behind bars only in cases where they commit violent offences, the justice secretary has revealed. David Gauke said short custodial sentences have failed to halt the “cycle of reoffending.”
The Ministry of Justice published a strategy on its website Wednesday outlining plans to scrap short custodial sentences as they have failed to stop people from re-committing crime. The government will instead build five trial residential centers as part of a shift towards community care.
The new plans to “break the cycle” of sentencing female offenders to prison come after it emerged a great majority of them are behind bars for minor crimes such as shoplifting. Fewer than 40 women out of the almost 4,000 currently in jail in England and Wales have committed a violent offence.
Of all the women released from custody between April and June 2016 after a sentence shorter than 12 months, 70.7 percent of them went on to reoffend, Gauke said.
“Evidence clearly shows that putting women into prison can do more harm than goodfor society, failing to cut the cycle of reoffending and often exacerbating already difficult family circumstances,” said Gauke.
The government said 60 percent of female offenders have experienced domestic abuse, while an estimated 24 to 31 percent have children for whom to care. It also highlighted how those in jail or on probation are more than twice as likely to suffer mental health issues than men.
“We want to ensure that the public and judiciary have confidence in non-custodial sentences – such as effective community orders – which directly tackle the causes of reoffending, including alcohol or drug abuse,” said the Ministry of Justice.
“We will be looking at what more we can do to emphasize that short custodial sentences should be viewed as a last resort.”
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