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Over the past few years, there has been a growing move to stop women from being imprisoned. For anything.
For the same crime, women serve less time than men. We do not have equality under the law in the UK. Women prisoners are more likely to re-offend after a prison sentence, yet instead of the obvious move of punishing female criminals the same as male criminals, successive governments have gone the other way, encouraging crime by women.
One of the thrusts of this ‘no women in prison’ campaign (that’s right: murderers, drug paddlers, child molesters, all out on the streets) is that women need to be at home to care for their children. This is a frequent excuse given by judges to keep a woman from prison. Quite how someone so criminal that they need to be kept from society in prison, can nevertheless be a good carer, is never explained.
On 23 October 2019, the government formally announced that it had no idea how many women in prison were mothers, let alone mothers of dependant children. Unsurprisingly, it has no idea about fathers, either.
The [estimate of the number of parents in prison who have children under the age of 18] is not collected or held centrally and cannot be verified. We acknowledge the importance of data collection to illuminate the prevalence and needs of those women prisoners with children, dependent or otherwise, as well as pregnancy, and to inform policy and practice in this area. Where an offender does choose to disclose, data is collected, although this data does not provide detailed information of the child’s age or whether they are dependents.Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice
Next time someone starts talking about mothers in prison needing special attention, ask them if they know that there might be no mothers in prison with dependant children, for all the government knows.