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Jane Peel reports
"Report says many women are being imprisoned needlessly"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 05:23 GMT 06:23 UK
Call to scrap new women's jails
women's prison generic
The number of women in jail has soared
The government is being urged to scrap plans to build two new women's prisons and instead make greater use of community punishment for female offenders.

The number of women in jail has more than doubled in the past five years to nearly 3,400.


I've been back out of prison and on drugs the same day

Heroin addict Julie
The Howard League for Penal Reform said many of them were jailed for drug-related crimes and it would have been less expensive and more effective to treat their addictions rather than put them in custody.

It said in a report -called A Chance to Break the Cycle - that the new Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTO) currently being piloted in certain areas offered a much more constructive approach.

Under the orders, offenders have to undergo a programme of treatment in the community backed up by compulsory tests.

One 34-year-old heroin addict with a history of shoplifting to feed her habit and who had served four jail terms, said receiving a DTTO had made all the difference.

New approach

The woman, named as "Julie" in the Howard League report, said, under the order, she had been sent to hospital for 10 days' detoxification and was now attending a community day programme with drugs to help her stay off heroin.

She said: "All the other times I've been back out of prison and on drugs the same day.

"I'm made up now I'm on the order, without it I'd have gone straight back on drugs."

Howard League director Frances Crook said: "The very high prevalence of drug problems among women in prison is an indictment of past failures, and demonstrates the need for a new approach.

"We call on the government to implement the DTTO nationally, but to back it with the commitment and resources to meet the particular needs of women with serious drug problems."

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05 May 99 | UK Politics
Prisons will 'never be drug free'
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