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Australia is locking up too many women but the UK offers a blueprint for a radical new approach

Ruth McCausland writes in The Conversation (14.9.16) about the rising rate of female incarceration in Australian prisons, and how a UK approach may provide a guide to addressing the issue here.’The number of women in prison in Australia has increased dramatically over the past decade. While men still make up the majority of prisoners, the increase in the incarceration rate for women is significantly greater than that for men.

‘It’s clear that new approaches are needed. As a starting point, Australian policymakers could take note of the ideas of Baroness Jean Corston, who is visiting Australia this week.

‘Baroness Corston led a world-first review of women with vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system in the United Kingdom. The 2007 Corston Report set out a blueprint for a radically different approach to a growing social and economic problem.

‘… Our rising women’s incarceration statistics are a compelling reason to trial the UK’s model in Australia. We urgently need community-based options that are women-centred, holistic and able to respond to the trauma and complex support needs of women who are otherwise going in and out of prison on remand and short sentences. We especially need culturally competent services that are focused on the needs and experiences of Indigenous women.’

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