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Why are so many babies being born in prison?

The Parliament page on ConservativeHome usually focuses on activity from Conservatives, for obvious reasons. But a written question from Labour MP Sandra Osborne has prompted a noteworthy answer:

"Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many women have given birth while serving a prison sentence in England in each of the last five years. [235686]

Mr. Hanson: The numbers of prisoners who have given birth while serving their custodial sentence since April 2005, when the Prison Service began collecting figures centrally, are as follows:


April 2008-October 2008


April 2007-March 2008


April 2006-March 2007


April 2005-March 2006


The Government are seeking to encourage greater use of community sentences for women offenders where possible. Where a custodial sentence has been given, specific provision is made for those women who are pregnant or have babies with them in prison."

These figures seem rather on the high side. Women and their unborn children must be treated humanely, and an alternative to a custodial sentence should almost always be the norm. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of the offences for which the women who gave birth were committed. Maybe a Conservative MP could pose that question.


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