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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 185160 Find in a Library
Title: Life in the Shadows: Women Lifers
Corporate Author: Howard League for Penal Reform
United Kingdom
Date Published: 1999
Page Count: 30
Sponsoring Agency: Howard League for Penal Reform
London, N19 3NL, England
Publication Number: ISBN 0-903683-37-7
Sale Source: Howard League for Penal Reform
708 Holloway Road
London, N19 3NL,
United Kingdom
Type: Survey
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This paper examines how the prison system in England manages life sentences for women, conditions in which female inmates are held, and support they receive while imprisoned, based on information obtained from policymakers, practitioners, professionals, and female inmates sentenced to life imprisonment.
Abstract: In November 1998, a survey of women's prisons holding life sentence inmates showed 139 women lifers were in the prison system. Most of these women were sentenced to a mandatory life sentence for murder, and a further 8 percent were convicted of arson. About 16 percent of the women were 21 years of age or younger when they were sentenced to life imprisonment, and 14 percent came from ethnic minority backgrounds. Lifers were managed centrally by the Prison Service, although the Prison Service Lifer Manual had only one page specifically on female inmates. When women were sentenced to life in prison, they were sent to a local prison before they were allocated to a first stage prison. Prison staff indicated the most common emotions of women they had to deal with were shock, loss, and guilt. Female inmates were in need of offending behavior courses that dealt with such issues as anger management, cognitive skills, and thinking skills, and prison psychologists suggested female inmates needed the ability to determine their own future and to take responsibility for their lives while in prison. Experiences of female inmates while in prison are briefly described with respect to clothing, incentives and earned privileges, work and education, fertility, visits and contact with children, self-harm, and temporary release and preparation for open conditions. The paper recommends three fundamental changes to the treatment and management of female inmates sentenced to life in prison: (1) life sentence should be the maximum and not the mandatory sentence for murder; (2) tariffs imposed on women sentenced to life imprisonment are too long; and (3) women are spending far too long in prison custody beyond the expiration of their tariff. The paper also recommends further consideration be paid to the specific needs of female life sentence prisoners, offending behavior courses, staff training, and the process leading to a prisoner's release. Additional information on life sentences is appended. 20 references, 12 footnotes, 6 tables, and 4 figures
Main Term(s): Corrections in foreign countries
Index Term(s): Correctional Personnel Training; England; Female inmates; Female murderers; Foreign correctional facilities; Foreign correctional systems; Foreign inmates; Inmate Education Assistance Programs; Life sentences; Prison conditions; Violent women
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