Rising homelessness after release from women's prison

HMP Bronzefield

A report into the largest women’s gaol in Europe, HMP Bronzefield in Surrey, found that 50% of prisoners are homeless after their release. This was the same prison that two years ago gave women tents to sleep in on leaving.

Homelessness leaves vulnerable women even more at risk when they leave prison, including of reoffending. A report by the Prison Reform Trust and Women in Prison earlier this year, highlighted lack of housing and housing support as a key factor in women returning to gaol. Additionally, prisoners leaving gaol are only given 48 hours of any medication they are on (and at Bronzefield, the study showed that 95% of women prisoners were on a regular medication), and if they are homeless and with no GP, they will struggle to get the next prescription. With no home, it is much harder, if not impossible, to get employment or training, to sort out benefits and to re-establish connections and contact with family and friends. Half of all women prisoners in England and Wales report that they committed their offence to support the drug use of another person. 60% of women in gaol have experienced domestic abuse and approximately 30% have dependent children.

Yet again, Britain, the fifth (or sixth) richest nation on earth, unable and unwilling to meet the needs of and offer long term help to those most vulnerable in our society. Housing is a human right. Capitalism is a crime.

Hannah Caller

 

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