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”
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”
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”
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”
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?”
Claire Cain 3 February 2020 The great Angela Davis wrote in Are Prisons Obsolete?: The prison therefore functions ideologically as an abstract site into which undesirables are deposited, relieving us of the responsibility of thinking about the real issues afflicting those communities from which prisoners are drawn in such disproportionate numbers. This is the ideological workContinue reading “Is it a crime to be poor?”
By Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay 20 January 2020 Tougher criminal justice sanctions are often advocated by politicians who say this reflects public opinion on how to treat criminals, but this is only part of the story. Many do support cost-effective, rehabilitative options over punishment. Indeed, this seems to be reflected in opinion polls suggesting a large majority of theContinue reading “Prisons and the mentally ill: the need to look beyond punitiveness”
By Rona Epstein 15 January 2020 On 27 November 2019, the Supreme Court gave judgment in R (Hemmati and others) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 56. Five individuals arrived in the UK illegally and claimed asylum; two from Iraq, two from Afghanistan and one from Iran. Two had already claimed asylum inContinue reading “The Supreme Court decision – detaining asylum seekers was unlawful”
By Steve Lee 26 November 2019 There are many strands linking homelessness and the criminal justice system. Ex-offenders leaving prison struggle to access accommodation on release. They often lose their homes while in custody. The Prison Reform Trust reports that six in ten female prisoners have no homes to go to upon release. Fifteen perContinue reading “Why it is time to repeal the Vagrancy Act of 1824”
By Rona Epstein 8 November 2019 Tara Casey wrote recently, ‘Poverty is not a crime and should never be treated as one’. Likewise, seeking asylum is not a crime, but is too often treated as one. The American academic Professor Juliet Stumpf described the convergence of criminal and immigration law as ‘crimmigration’. Two recent casesContinue reading “Prosecution of asylum seekers needs to stop”
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