two extreme types of prison career. Kim’s story is the stereotypical one of a woman brought up in care, a victim of physical and sexual abuse who, by the time she gets to going in and out of prison serving short sentences, has a multitude of problems aggravated by drug usage and her rapidly narrowing options for achieving a safe, secure lifestyle. By contrast, Muriel, who had served 14 years for murder of her husband before being released during the period of the research had never committed any other crime. And we wondered if we had been misguided to choose two such extremes. Yet, as their stories unfold throughout this Report, it will be seen that each of these gendered narratives contains many elements known to be typical of the position of women in the criminal justice and penal systems and, indeed, of women in society as a whole. However, it will also be assumed, throughout, that the way in which gender relations are activated situationally is also dependent upon both class and race relations, all of which, together, at a particular point in time, intersect with an individual woman’s life events to render her socio-autobiography a unique product of its time. The interviews with the 26 professionals and administrators working in the criminal justice and penal systems were dealt with differently to those of the women prisoners and ex-prisoners. In recent years, comparatively little research in England has focused on senior policy-makers, administrators and practitioners in the criminal justice and penal systems. Accordingly, interviews with Home Office, Prison Service, and other senior professionals in a range of statutory agencies and non governmental organisations did provide much new material about the latest views on emerging policies and practice directives of the people who are either developing, criticising, or attempting to implement them. The professionals’ interviews were therefore analysed and then theorised to help provide new explanations of why initiatives based on increased official awareness of the distinctive needs of female offenders and ex-prisoners are still, according to the latest reports (e.g. Fawcett Society 2004; James et.al. 2004)) failing to achieve the desired reductions in women’s crime, recidivism and imprisonment. (See Annex 1 for a longer explanation and discussion of the investigative and presentational methods used.)
Although this national Report is not based upon survey methods, for ease of comparison between the different jurisdictions involved in the MIP Project, national research teams were enjoined to discuss their findings under the ‘hypotheses’ and ‘sub hypotheses’ listed below. These hypotheses and sub hypotheses, therefore, are to be read as devices to standardise the presentation of evidence and arguments from jurisdictions with varying amounts of existing data and official and public awareness of gender issues, rather than as statements to be sustained or refuted by statistical evidence from the relatively small amount of qualitative research conducted under the MIP Project. The substance of the hypotheses inheres in the state-of-the-art- knowledge about women in the criminal justice and penal systems in Europe (and elsewhere) which was available at the start of the Project in 2002.
Hypothesis 1. Many women in prison are already suffering a degree of social exclusion at the time of their imprisonment. Using the definition of social exclusion outlined and discussed below, and on the evidence which we will present in discussion of the sub hypotheses also considered below, we find this hypothesis sustained.
Social Exclusion is a broad concept which has its roots in European social thought from the middle of the fifteenth century onwards, when social upheavals, wars and