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We still can witness sexist and racist views. Still ongoing sexism. We see sexism in the ways they deal with women, not appreciating their opinions. Racism? Not taking women’s cultural differences seriously is racism. (A.12)

Women’s Offending Reduction Programme Following the consultation document, The Government’s Strategy for Women Offenders, published in October 2000 (Home Office 2001b), the Government announced plans for the Women’s Offending Reduction Programme in September 2001. The Programme aims to strengthen existing links and to encourage cross-government work on reducing women’s offending by the development of integrated policies, programmes and spending partnerships. The Programme’s plan of action, formally launched in 2004, provides a framework for building on existing good practice to reduce women’s offending. It will also enhance the growing recognition across the criminal justice system that a distinct response to the particular needs of women is essential if there is to be effective interventions into women’s criminal careers. The Programme’s work is being managed by the Women’s Policy Team at the Home Office and overseen by the Women’s Offending Programme Board, comprised of senior representatives from the Probation Service, Youth Justice Board and Prison Service. This, together with the 2003-2004 Business Plan recently unveiled by the Prison Service’s Women’s Team has been widely seen as one of the most promising plans of action on women’s prisons put forward to date.

Sub hypothesis 3.1: Work within prisons does not supply inmates with marketable

occupational

skills

for

use

after

release.

This

hypothesis

was

sustained

without

qualification, though, given the educational background of, sentences served by, women prisoners, the authors of this Report

and relatively do not believe

short that it

is feasible to expect prisons to supply short-term prisoners with marketable discussions under sub hypotheses 4.4 and 4.5 below.)

skills. (See

The majority of women in prison serve very short sentences and in 2002

40 percent

12 months or less. Overall, Reform Trust 2004: 11) the educational achievement

the

average

sentence

of

women

in prison

is significantly lower than for

served a sentence of 3 months or less while nearly

three quarters were sentenced to length was 10 months. (Prison

women in the general population

  • many have very little experience of stable employment

  • 39 percent of women prisoners had not worked for a year prior to employment and

23 percent had not worked for over 5 year. (Social Exclusion Unit 2002, referring to Hamlyn and Lewis 2000) Given the employment and educational backgrounds combined with the relatively short sentence lengths of the female prison population in England and Wales, it is difficult to see how prisons could provide the majority of prisoners with marketable skills after release. However, there still remain a quarter of women prisoners who serve more than 12 months and, as research has suggested that employment can reduce the risk of re- offending by between a third and a half (Social Exclusion Unit 2002, quoting Lipsey 1992; Simon and Corbett, 1996) it is reasonable to hold the expectation that at least some of the prison sentence might be spent in enhancing existing skills or gaining new ones. Yet prisoners who have addictions will often not be ready to learn new skills and, many women do not see getting employment as being a first priority when they leave prison. Getting safe, secure accommodation is a first priority for homeless women

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