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Leading expert on women and prison to help inform policy debate

One of the UK’s leading figures in the study of women in prison has been invited to offer expert insight to a one-day conference exploring women’s experience of the criminal justice system.

Professor Azrini Wahidin, Co-director for the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender at the University of Warwick, will be the keynote speaker at the ‘Offending Women? Women's Journeys Through the Criminal Justice System’ conference, taking place in Manchester on Saturday 6th April and being organized by the Women’s Equality Party.

Professor Wahidin is a leading author in the field of older offenders and women in prison, and has researched and written several books in the area.

She said: “I am delighted to be invited to speak about women and prison, and to make the case for a holistic, woman-centred approach to the plight of women in prison. Many women prisoners are themselves victims of domestic violence and survivors of sexual assault. Poverty, homelessness, abuse, mental illness and addictions underpin female offending.

“Eleven years on from the Corston Report, prompted by the deaths of six women at Styal prison, only 25 of Baroness Corston’s 43 recommendations have been implemented in full. Women are still routinely remanded into custody, and the use of community sentences is falling.

“Rather than seeing prison as a panecea for social ills, policies need to address the pathways to offending and ensure that on release women are given the opportunity to desist from crime. This can only be achieved if there is the political will to find alternatives to imprisonment and embed a social justice framework in treatment of women who come into conflict with the law.”

The conference has been organized by the Women’s Equality Party to explore the inequalities that women offenders face. Most women prisoners are sentenced for non-violent offences and are in the main serving sentences of less than 12 months.

Harini Iyengar, a barrister and Women’s Equality Party Spokesperson, will be closing the conference. She said: “In light of the fact that almost 60 percent of female offenders have experienced domestic abuse and one in three have survived sexual abuse, it is vital that the inequalities that women face at every stage of the criminal justice system are exposed. I’m so looking forward to exploring these issues together with a panel of such great experts.”

Delegates will hear from women with lived experience of incarceration and from speakers including barrister Harriet Johnson, campaigner Hannah Morowa, and magistrate Scott Cowap JP.

The conference will take place on Saturday 6 April at Manchester High School for Girls, in Fallowfield. Manchester. https://www.womensequality.org.uk/mcr_offending_women_conference

3 April 2019

  • Professor Azrini Wahidin (PGCE, MA, PhD, FAcSS, FLF, SFHEA, FRSA) is a member of the Department of Sociology at the Univeristy of Warwick. She has held visiting positions at the University of Melbourne, Midddle Tenessee State University, Florida University, University of Malaya and Universiti Sains Malaysia. Azrini has a wide interest in the links between criminal justice and social justice, looking at race, sexuality, gender and social exclusion. She researches on the issues of imprisonment, penal policy, youth justice, former female ex-combatants, violence against women, women in the criminal justice system, transitions out of custody, the criminalisation of migrants, the engendering of punishment, trans prisoners and the experiences of elders in prison in the UK and USA.

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