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notion that women suffer more from economic deficits than cognitive deficits, and which attempt to show women how to cope practically and lawfully with their daily problems outside prison do not receive official accreditation; traditional in-prison programmes (such as art and discussion groups) deemed to be without anti-criminogenic purpose have been abandoned in favour of cognitive behavioural programmes parachuted in from Canada and, in some cases, originally designed for men. Courts, impressed by claims about the efficacy of in-prison programmes in meeting criminogenic need, and not hearing much about the community programmes or the research which suggests that the claims of the psychological programmers are ill-founded, send more and more women ‘at risk’ to prison. As more female offenders are in poverty (and therefore ‘at risk’) than their male counterparts, the disproportionately increasing numbers of female prisoners lead to overcrowding in the women’s prisons which in turn results in a lack of fit between the locations of programmes and the locations of prisoners, and the gap between reform rhetoric and reform reality becomes wider than ever. Having been inappropriately imprisoned in increasingly crowded prisons, women go out of prison materially worse off than when they went in, they re-offend and the increasing female prison population together with programming propaganda suggests that there is a new type of female criminal who should be imprisoned ...and the whole circle begins again.

The WORP programme aims not to send women to prison in the first place, but, in that case, there will have to be more flexibility in running non-custodial programmes, more discretion granted to people running the programmes than is allowed under present accreditation procedures, and a refusal to see prison as the automatic back-up to non- custodial penalties. For at present, the talk of ‘robust’ and ‘more demanding’ programmes, although understandable in the context of a punitive society and a government that has promised to be tough on crime, is likely to result in a trancarceralism which will have the unintended consequence of increasing the female

prison population still further.

  • Transcarceralism means bringing the pains of imprisonment out into the

community, usually to impress sentencers and public that these disposals are

not

a

soft

option. But in the context of offender use, many offenders are already being

homelessness, poverty, mental illness and punished in the community and therefore

drugs- find it

very their

difficult to meet the domestic and family

additional demands of a community sentence. Women, with responsibilities are usually even more overburdened. In short,

if

community

sentences

are

too

demanding,

they

will

set

women

up

to

fail,

the

women

who fail will be seen as undeserving of further chances, will be returned to prison.

  • Centralism

To help ensure that women are not set up to fail, there responses to offenders, in other words, to have a cut

as being beyond help and they

is a need for less centralism in back in, or devolution of, the

centralised public/private prison business and with it, less emphasis on managerialist audit and centralised accreditation. As far as offenders and concerned centralism often erroneously implies that ‘one size fits all’.

centralised prisons are

If we could define programmes for individuals we could have a modular approach to resettlement. Define what the positive outcomes would be for different aspects of each person’s resettlement. (A.21)

As far as criminal justice professionals are concerned, punitive centralism can be responsible for low morale and a major impediment to innovation. It will therefore be advisable for the new National Offender Management Service to remember what the old

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