Children of women in prison may lose contact time

Changes in rules for women's prisons likely to affect prisoners' children

The government has come under fire for a reorganisation of women’s prisons that is likely to result in the children of prisoners having less contact with their mothers.  While women’s prisons were previously classified as open, semi-open or closed, the government has turned the two semi-open women’s prisons – Morton Hall in Lincolnshire and Drake Hall in Staffordshire – into closed prisons.  This leaves only two open prisons for women in England and Wales, along with twelve closed ones.  The prison service now faces the anomaly of women classified as semi-open prisoners being detained in closed prisons, and apparently subject to rules for closed prisoners.  Women in Prison, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) which works to support women offenders and ex-offenders, described the decision as ‘the quiet abolition of semi-open prisons for women’.  There are particular fears about the effect on prisoners’ children.  Semi-open prisoners are allowed to apply to spend time with their children outside of the prison.

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