Saturday, July 16, 2011

Stand by Your Man

We have an excellent newpaper in prison called Inside Time.  There is a link to it on this blog.

The July issue carries a front page story about Women in Prison, not a topic widely discussed in the media. Consider this:

11,000 women are received into custody each year, and two thirds of them are sentenced to custody for a period of 6 months or less.

Over 17,000 children are separated by from their mothers by imprisonment each year and only 9% of them are looked after by their fathers. This poses the question of why men find it so difficult to look after their offspring when their partner is incarcerated.

In this prison the visits room is full of women visiting their partners and bringing the kids in to visit their dad. It is a sad fact that many women in prison are deserted by their partners, unless they also are women!

Why is it that men find it so hard to stay the course?  And when it costs around £56,415 a year to keep a woman in prison, why lock her up at all, given the fact that the cost to her family (children taken into care etc.) is even higher?


  1. Great post, and so much going on; many different strands.

    The whole prison system needs to be changed, not just women's prisons. Perhaps one of the worst things about incarceration is gender separation. That in itself can be tantamount to torture for some.

    How about mixed prisons as a part solution to the social problems of crime and punishment? Any takers?

  2. Yes, this is something i noticed years ago. Though i have no explanation why most women stand by their men, and some men are off at the first sign of trouble. Though i have to add, i did see one woman hand in new trainers, and loads of CD's for a male inmate. No idea if it was her partner, or brother, whatever. But her kids looked really scruffy, and if i were her. I would have said i couldn't afford it, as i would be spending the money on the kids.

    I also know a woman who got life. She told her husband to go and find someone else, but he insisted he married her for better or worse, and would be waiting, and stay celibate. He did wait, no idea of course if he was celibate for 11 years though.

    Also know a woman who worked as a prostitute on the out. and would you belive, she used to get visits from a punter, and she would tell him she needed £100 for books to do a course, which she would send to her husband in another jail. I'd have thought he would have gone up the road to find another hooker?? Nowt as queer as folk.

    I have seen him round the town once or twice, he gives me a look, as if to say, "i know you were a prison inmate once", I give him a look, as if to say, " i know you use hookers, half your age!"

  3. 'How about mixed prisons as a part solution to the social problems of crime and punishment? Any takers?'

    Porridge as well as 'oats', - Interesting!

  4. Entertaining post, anon 8.15, and Darby, your witty comment reminded me of a recent post by John Hirst on his Jailhouse Lawyer blog about conjugal visits. Now, there's a thing...

  5. With the 9% statistic, surely that needs to be given some context as what percentage of children have absentee fathers before the mother ends up in jail.

  6. I question the cost. That figure is not the real cost. As the prison infrastructure is already there. The staff are there so the more woman banged up the cheaper it would be surely. Or if I am wrong pls break down that cost. And why should women be treated different its the same for men. Can't do the crime why do the time. But I agree short sentences should be abolished for all.

  7. I was told by the governor, that the cost of a woman in Cookham Wood, (now men's prison) was £28k p.a. that was 8 years ago. Open prison was cheaper. So, in spite of inflation, that figure does sound rather high. A quick google search tells me school fees at Eaton, and Tonbridge school are around £30k p.a. Much the same money, very different results, compared to prison.

  8. @ tallguy

    Seconded. I expect there are many more single mothers who end up in prison than single fathers, if only because there are more single mothers in general. (Also it's much easier to end up a single mother by accident than a single father, for obvious reasons, and the women likely to end up in that circumstance will probably be at a higher risk of imprisonment for other reasons as well.)

    @ Anon 11:19

    The death penalty in the US is ridiculously expensive. Cases cost many times more to prosecute, since the standard of proof is higher, and the security on death row also means they cost more to imprison than the average. It's hardly a secret that eliminating the death penalty in the States would save millions of taxpayer dollars, but they're holding on to it for the alleged deterrent effect.

    On a side note, I know there has been some success with programs that allow women who give birth in prison to keep their children with them. Obviously, a newborn to toddler age group is a little bit different from, say, a nine year old with school to keep up on, but it would be interesting to at least look at what would be involved in setting up a similar situation for older children. Obviously, there are some "parents" who really should not have access to their kids, but I suspect there are also kids that might be more harmed by being separated from their mother than by having a weird living situation for six months or so.

  9. I have long commented on the same thing Ben - women's prison visiting areas are full of harried looking grandmothers while men are visited by the missus and kids. A reflection of gender roles on the outside I guess.
    And what a shame that , among the thoughful comments on this blog you get idiots like änonymous ( interesting that they are too gutless to use a name) spouting inane rubbish like advocating the death penalty!


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