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The Bishop of Gloucester will introduce a debate in the House of Lords on Wednesday, calling for a change to the way women are sentenced.
Rt Rev Rachel Treweek is expected to call for a review of short prison sentences and ask that the Government considers community based orders and rehabilitation for women with less serious offences.
She said in a statement: “We know that women in the justice system get caught in the so-called revolving door with short prison sentences. Women lose their homes; they often lose custody of their children, even to adoption. This often then exacerbates the downward spiral into more serious offences and an inability to secure employment.
“Properly resourced women’s centres can provide an opportunity for a different path, where women can receive a holistic trauma-informed approach of rehabilitation.”
Bishop Rachel said a review of the women’s justice system could lead to a more cost-effective solution.
“We know that it costs approximately £47,000 per year to keep a woman in prison, but women’s centres can work effectively with approximately £4,000 per woman each year,” she said.
The bishop also highlighted that female offenders are very often victims of abuse.
“According to the excellent organisation ‘Women in Prison’ 53 per cent of women in prison have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse during childhood; 46 per cent report suffering domestic abuse violence; and over 30% spent time in local authority care as a child,” she said.
“As a Christian I believe that our humanity and flourishing is rooted in relationship. Where healing and rehabilitation take place it comes from a place of trust in relationship. To that end prison is rarely the most appropriate or effective place for these issues to be addressed.”
She urged for significant investment in women’s centres where former inmates can build “relationship and trust”.
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