The misguided prominence of homeless shelters

Ben A. McJunkin, 17 August 2021 To be homeless in America is to be a criminal. Across the country, city ordinances increasingly prohibit broad swaths of conduct that make merely existing in public spaces difficult. This includes loitering in parks, resting at bus stops, obstructing sidewalks, pitching a tent, asking for money, asking for work,Continue reading “The misguided prominence of homeless shelters”

Still a crime to be poor? – Reflections on a 30 year career in the Criminal Justice System

Frances Crook 17 May 2021 I’ve spent over thirty years facing up to the criminal justice and penal systems, bearing witness to its cruelties and failings, and as I move on with my life, the whole system is about to enter a new era of punishment. I began work at the Howard League in theContinue reading “Still a crime to be poor? – Reflections on a 30 year career in the Criminal Justice System”

Nothing to live on: Poverty is fuelling women’s offending

Olivia Dehnavi 10 May 2021 As the pandemic and erratic lockdown conditions have seen the economy largely shut down, we’ve entered a jobs crisis and watched unemployment rise. Government policy has deepened inequality and meant that women have had to juggle job insecurity with increased amounts of childcare and housework. As the financial crisis continues, we need to thinkContinue reading “Nothing to live on: Poverty is fuelling women’s offending”

Criminalising rough sleeping and begging (Part 2)

Martine Lignon 19 April 2021 Rough sleeping and begging have been illegal in England and Wales since the Vagrancy Act was passed in the summer of 1824. Begging is a recordable offence under section 3 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 (as amended). Anyone found sleeping in a public place or begging for money can be arrested. However, begging, while illegal,Continue reading “Criminalising rough sleeping and begging (Part 2)”

Now, more than ever, the Criminalisation of Poverty has to stop

Dr Ben Stanford and Rona Epstein Friday, 12 March 2021 As others have noted, the UK has a long and troubled history penalising people who live in poverty. This can be seen in centuries-old vagrancy laws and imprisonment for council tax debt, and more recently with the introduction of Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPOs) andContinue reading “Now, more than ever, the Criminalisation of Poverty has to stop”

Decriminalising the non-payment of TV licences and council tax

Some time ago, an article by Rona Epstein on council tax debt was published in the magazine Ready, Steady, Go! produced by Women In Prison distributed to all women’s prisons. It explained the law about council tax debt. Melanie, a single mother from Porthcawl in Wales, who was in poor health and in financial difficulties,Continue reading “Decriminalising the non-payment of TV licences and council tax”

Criminalising rough sleeping and begging

The Vagrancy Act 1824: criminalising rough sleeping and begging There are many strands linking homelessness and the criminal justice system. Ex-prisoners struggle to access accommodation on release. They often lose their homes while in custody – sometimes being accused of having made themselves ‘intentionally homeless’. The Prison Reform Trust reports that six in ten femaleContinue reading “Criminalising rough sleeping and begging”

Covid-19, poverty, and criminalisation

The COVID-19 pandemic in the UK has had a dramatic impact on household debt and financial security. The DWP has seen applications for Universal Credit soar since lockdown was imposed in March. As of the start of May, 1.8 million claims had been received since 16 March – six times the usual claimant rate. LocalContinue reading “Covid-19, poverty, and criminalisation”

Righting wrongs: Access to criminal appeals for women in prison

Naima Sakande 18 June 2020 I am a criminal defence investigator at APPEAL, a non-profit law practice, specialising in challenging wrongful convictions and unfair sentences for women in criminal cases. Despite abundant reporting on the unjust and damaging nature of short sentences (see here, here and here), I have always found it difficult to convince women sentenced to short stintsContinue reading “Righting wrongs: Access to criminal appeals for women in prison”

Why are pregnant women in prison?

Rona Epstein 14 May 2020 An estimated 600 pregnant women are held in prisons in England and Wales each year, and about 100 babies are born inside. On 27 September 2019, a woman held in HMP Bronzefield on remand gave birth alone in her cell. When prison staff visited the woman’s cell in the morning the babyContinue reading “Why are pregnant women in prison?”