Fewer than 4,000 of the 84,000 people in British prisons are women. The number has been in decline for some time. The conditions in women’s prisons are markedly better than in men’s prisons. We know from a piece by William Collins that if British men were sentenced with the same leniency as women, five out of six men currently in British prisons wouldn’t be there. The male prison population would fall from around 80,000 to around 13,000.
Introducing gender equality in this area would end the ‘prison overcrowding crisis’ at a stroke.
It’s obvious, then, where we need to place the emphasis on prisoner number reductions, isn’t it? Yes, in reducing the female prison population yet further. The Prison Reform Trust has just secured a £1.2 million lottery grant with exactly that aim in mind. An Independent article on the matter is here.