Women should not be sent to prison- COI Report

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By Leroy Smith

Women, except in very exceptional circumstances, should not be sent to prison at all, according to the Commission of Inquiry Report into the Camp Street Prison Disturbances and Resultant Deaths of 2016 and was listed under the sub heading “Women in Prisons”

The report among other things stated that the way society deals with women is simply an extension of what is considered appropriate for men. “When a policy turns out to be inappropriate for men, it is usually disastrous for women, which is clearly the case with the current penal policy” the report added.

Of the total number of persons in prisons at the time the report was compiled, 4% are women.

Another recommendation of the report regarding women and the prison system stated that “Women’s role as caregivers should attract much higher priority in determining whether to imprison women at all. Long-delayed trials, venal lawyers and poorly trained magistrates prolong and aggravate a basically unsound method of dealing with women involved in crimes, creating over-crowding”

The Commission of Inquiry Report stated that women are usually incarcerated because they are victims of men either by being used as drug mules or for stealing so as to feed children for whom child-fathers are not providing, or they are on murder charges for having turned violently on a brutal male partner.

Further, the report stated that most of the women in prison have either been physically and or sexually abused since childhood and in need of help, “not punishment”.

Prison is a much harsher experience for women than men, the report said, adding that an extended stay in prison usually means women emerge to find their children dispersed, their partner no longer around and their home taken over by others. The report stated that a revolution in attitudes to women’s imprisonment is needed.

“In view of the high level of sexual abuse and exploitation to which detained women are vulnerable, prompt and thorough investigations should be carried out of all complaints of sexual harassment by any officers of the state agencies” another recommendation of the COI report stated.

The report was presented to the National Assembly on Thursday along with several other COI reports which were conducted and compiled over the last few months.

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