Legal Advice for Women Prisoners

by Prisoners' Advice Service
Legal Advice for Women Prisoners
Legal Advice for Women Prisoners
Legal Advice for Women Prisoners
Legal Advice for Women Prisoners
Legal Advice for Women Prisoners
Legal Advice for Women Prisoners
Legal Advice for Women Prisoners
Legal Advice for Women Prisoners
Legal Advice for Women Prisoners
Legal Advice for Women Prisoners

Updated GlobalGiving Report

1 July to 30 September 2018

Author: Geof Jarvis; Head of Fundraising and Communications, PAS

Delivery of Outreach Clinics for Women and Disabled Prisoners

Since our last report, your kind donations have continued to help us to maintain our outreach services for women and the disabled in prisons across England and Wales.

Our Services for Women Prisoners

Over the course of the last three months – July, August and September 2018 – PAS continued to deliver Outreach Clinics in women’s prisons, providing nine clinics in four prisons during this period: HMPs Bronzefield in Surrey, Downview in Surrey, New Hall in West Yorkshire and Send in Surrey. Over the three month period, we helped 61 women face-to-face through Outreach Clinics alone.

In addition, we responded to a total of 15 letters, five phone calls and four e-mails from women prisoners – from those prisons listed above, and from the remaining women’s prisons: HMPs Askham Grange in North Yorkshire, Drake Hall in Staffordshire, East Sutton Park in Kent, Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire, Foston Hall in Derbyshire, Low Newton in County Durham, Peterborough in Cambridgeshire and Styal in Cheshire.

Working with Disabled Prisoners

Over the last three months, your support has helped support our Community Care Caseworkers to deliver eight Outreach Clinics in three prisons: HMPs Pentonville and Thameside, both in London, and Leyhill in Gloucester. During clinics, our Caseworkers held 91 face-to-face meetings with individual, disabled prisoners. Your grant also helped Caseworkers to respond to a total of eight telephone calls and letter enquiries from disabled prisoners during this three month window.

PAS helps prisoners with disabilities to obtain the auxiliary aids that they require, for example, crutches, wheelchairs, etc. We assist prisoners to gain access to prison workshops and to education classes. Our caseworkers can request that such classes be moved to the ground floor if disabled access to upper floors is not possible. We also work to ensure extended library book loans for dyslexic prisoners and the provision of large print books for visually impaired prisoners.

Case Study 1: PAS Helps Prisoner Gain Contact with Children

Prisoner A, had been convicted of killing her mother-in-law, receiving a life sentence with a minimum term of 11 years. The starting point for the minimum tariff for murder is 15 years; Prisoner A’s lower tariff reflected the fact that the judge accepted she had been provoked to a certain degree by her relative’s abusive behaviour for approximately six months before the incident.

Prisoner A was housed on a Therapeutic Community in prison, having been sent there as she was suffering from poor mental health and the effects of trauma. Being of South Asian origin, she had limited use of the English language.

Prisoner A had not seen her two sons for over two years. She had received visits from them (brought by their father) when she was first in prison but the frequency gradually reduced until the visits stopped completely. She only had one telephone call with her children in the two year period.

PAS’ Women Prisoners’ Caseworker advised the prisoner that she could apply for a Child Arrangements Order for contact with her children in the family courts. PAS completed her application; communicated with the court to ensure a Production Order was granted for her to attend the first hearing; wrote to the court to highlight her vulnerabilities and drafted a Position Statement for her, setting out her request for the court before the hearing. This was particularly important as her English was limited.

The court made an interim order for contact, allowing her to see her youngest child (the eldest was over 16 and the court only grants orders for children between 16 and 18 in exceptional circumstances). The court also ordered indirect contact through letters and phone calls, and letters to the eldest son. At the time of publishing, PAS is hopeful that the court will order contact to continue at the final hearing.

Case Study 2: Male Prisoner able to Receive Regular Visits from Autistic Son

Having already introduced Family Law advice as a part of our work with women prisoners, a recent case highlighted the need for a similar service to be available in the male estate.

PAS heard from Prisoner B, from Pentonville in London, who was being prevented from seeing his six-year old son. The boy was autistic and finding the public transport required to visit his father overstimulating and highly distressing. It became simply too challenging for Prisoner B’s wife to travel into central London with their son to see his dad. As a result, Prisoner B only saw his son once a month, despite having earned enhanced prisoner status, which ordinarily would entitle him to more, and potentially longer, visits from his family.

PAS wrote a letter to the Head of the Offender Management Unit at Pentonville to request that Prisoner B be transferred to an institution closer to the family home as a reasonable adjustment under section 20 of the Equality Act, which states that, “where a provision, criterion or practice… puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in relation to a relevant matter in comparison with persons who are not disabled, [then the organisation on whom the duty is imposed should] take such steps as it is reasonable to have to take to avoid the disadvantage.”

As a result of our intervention, Prisoner B was transferred to the prison closer to his family home, where – as the journey to do so was now shorter and less daunting for them – his son and wife could now visit him far more frequently.

In Conclusion

Prisoners’ Advice Service remains most grateful to GlobalGIving for helping to support our work with female and disabled prisoners in England and Wales. Without the assistance of charitable organisations such as your own, the work that we do with vulnerable prisoners would be severely curtailed.

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Updated Global Giving Report

1 April to 30 June 2018

Author: Geof Jarvis; Head of Fundraising and Communications, PAS

Delivery of Outreach Clinics for Women and Disabled Prisoners

Since our last report, your kind donations have continued to help us to expand our outreach services for women and the disabled in prison across England and Wales.

Our Services for Women Prisoners

Over the course of the last three months – January, February and March 2018 – PAS continued to deliver Outreach Clinics in women’s prisons, providing eight clinics in four prisons during this period: HMPs Bronzefield in Surrey, Downview in Surrey, New Hall in West Yorkshire and Send in Surrey. Over the three month period, we helped 73 women face-to-face through Outreach Clinics alone.

In addition, we responded to a total of 37 letters, seven phone calls and three e-mails from women prisoners – from those prisons listed above, and from the remaining women’s prisons: HMPs Askham Grange in North Yorkshire, Drake Hall in Staffordshire, East Sutton Park in Kent, Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire, Foston Hall in Derbyshire, Low Newton in County Durham, Peterborough in Cambridgeshire and Styal in Cheshire.

Working with Disabled Prisoners

Over the last three months, your support has helped support our Community Care Caseworkers to deliver four Outreach Clinics in two prisons: HMPs Pentonville and Thameside, both in London. During clinics, our Caseworkers held 36 face-to-face meetings with individual, disabled prisoners. Your grant also helped Caseworkers to respond to a total of 46 telephone calls and letter enquiries from disabled prisoners during this three month window.

PAS helps prisoners with disabilities to obtain the auxiliary aids that they require, for example, crutches, wheelchairs, etc. We assist prisoners to gain access to prison workshops and to education classes. Our caseworkers can request that such classes be moved to the ground floor if disabled access to upper floors is not possible. We also work to ensure extended library book loans for dyslexic prisoners and the provision of large print books for visually impaired prisoners.

Case Study 1: Double Amputee Released to Adapted Accommodation

Prisoner A is a double amputee whose Home Detention Curfew (HDC) release date was fast approaching when he contacted PAS on our advice line. He was concerned that due to a delay in completing his Home Circumstances Report, he would lose the specially adapted bungalow to which he hoped to be released. Prisoner A had been told by the prison that because there were rent arrears outstanding on the property, the Home Circumstances Report could not be completed and the property could not be approved.

Prisoners’ Advice Service contacted the housing association which owned the bungalow and made enquiries as to how Prisoner A should go about paying off the rent arrears. There had been a lack of effective communication between the housing association and the prison, which meant that this issue had not been resolved. The housing association assured PAS that once the rent arrears were paid off, the bungalow would be held for the prisoner. Prisoner A was then able to arrange for a friend to pay off his arrears.

PAS confirmed this had happened with the housing association and wrote to the Probation Service asking them to expedite Prisoner A’s HDC Home Circumstances Report. Within a week, the Probation Service confirmed the HDC release date could now be arranged as his Home Circumstances Report had been completed and his property approved. Prisoner A was then released on HDC to his adapted bungalow.

Case Study 2: Court Orders Contact With Her Children for Prisoner

Prisoner B, had been convicted of killing her mother-in-law, receiving a sentence of Life with a minimum term of 11 years because the judge had found some relevant provocation in the form of domestic violence when considering her case, including from her mother-in-law when she visited from India. This was reflected in her minimum tariff (for which the usual starting point is 15 years).

Prisoner B was on a Therapeutic Community wing in prison, having been sent there as she was suffering from poor mental health and the effects of trauma. Being of Indian origin, she had limited use of the English language.

Prisoner B had not seen her two sons for over two years. She had received visits from them (brought by their father) when she was first on remand but the frequency gradually reduced until she was receiving no visits. She had no contact either, apart from a phone call when the children were visiting her family in India. The father was refusing contact and had filed for divorce.

PAS’ Women Prisoners’ Caseworker advised the prisoner that she could apply for a Child Arrangements Order for contact with her children in the family courts. PAS completed her application; communicated with the court to ensure a Production Order was granted for her to attend the first hearing; wrote to the court to highlight her vulnerabilities and drafted a Position Statement for her, setting out her perspective for the court. This was particularly important as her English was limited.

The court made an interim order for contact, allowing her to see her youngest child, a minimum of three times before her final hearing (the oldest was over 16 and the court only makes orders for children between 16 and 18 in exceptional circumstances). The court also ordered indirect contact through letters and phone calls, and letters to the eldest son. At the time of going to print, PAS was hopeful that the court would also order contact with the eldest child at the final hearing.

In Conclusion

Prisoners’ Advice Service remains most grateful to GlobalGIving for helping to support our work with female and disabled prisoners in England and Wales. Without the assistance of charitable organisations such as your own, the work that we do with vulnerable prisoners would be severely curtailed.

Links:

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1 January to 31 March 2018

Delivery of Outreach Clinics for Women and Disabled Prisoners

Since our last report, your kind donations have continued to help us to expand our outreach services for women and the disabled in prison across England and Wales.

Our Services for Women Prisoners

Over the course of the last three months – January, February and March 2018 – PAS continued to deliver Outreach Clinics in women’s prisons, providing 10 clinics in five prisons during this period: HMPs Bronzefield in Surrey, Downview in Surrey, New Hall in West Yorkshire, Styal in Cheshire and Send in Surrey. Over the three month period, we helped 79 women face-to-face through Outreach Clinics alone.

In addition, we responded to a total of 24 letters, 11 phone calls and two e-mails from women prisoners – from those prisons listed above, and from the remaining women’s prisons: HMPs Askham Grange in North Yorkshire, Drake Hall in Staffordshire, East Sutton Park in Kent, Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire, Foston Hall in Derbyshire, Low Newton in County Durham and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.

Working with Disabled Prisoners

Over the last three months, your support has helped support our Community Care Caseworkers to deliver seven Outreach Clinics in three prisons: HMPs Lewes in East Sussex and Pentonville and Thameside, both in London. During clinics, our Caseworkers held 74 face-to-face meetings with individual, disabled prisoners.   Your grant also helped Caseworkers to respond to a total of 46 telephone calls and letter enquiries from disabled prisoners during this three month window.

PAS helps prisoners with disabilities to obtain the auxiliary aids that they require, for example, crutches, wheelchairs, etc. We assist prisoners to gain access to prison workshops and to education classes. Our caseworkers can request that such classes be moved to the ground floor if disabled access to upper floors is not possible. We also work to ensure extended library book loans for dyslexic prisoners and the provision of large print books for visually impaired prisoners.

Case Study 1: Successful Parole Case for a Client with Disabilities, whose Mother Was Dying

PAS recently represented disabled Prisoner A – who suffered from back, neck and hip problems – at a parole hearing to determine whether he might be released in order to care for his mother, who was dying.   In response to his index offence, Prisoner A had been given a sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) and was now more than six years over tariff. Prisoners sentenced to an IPP are set a minimum term (tariff) which they must spend in prison. After they have completed their tariff they can apply to the Parole Board for release. The Parole Board will release a prisoner only if it is satisfied that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public for the prisoner to be confined.

Prisoner A was an enhanced prisoner (one who has shown that he is able to abide by the prison rules and who has exceeded expectations of good behaviour) with no adjudications and no failed – recent – mandatory drug tests (MDTs). Now his physical condition was deteriorating and his mother was dying. He was anxious to be released so he could help look after her.

Due to his condition, Prisoner A had relied heavily on pain medication in the past. Substance misuse was a key element of his index offence and was considered to be at the heart of his risk. He had previously failed in open conditions five times due to substance misuse or failed medication audits, which complicated the current issue. Release or a move to open conditions were not being considered. Prisoner A’s Offender Supervisor (OS) and Offender Manager (OM) were both recommending a progression regime in closed conditions followed by a programme designed for people with a personality disorder.

PAS instructed an independent psychologist to assess the Prisoner A’s risk and to comment on his suitability for the recommended programme. The psychologist gave clear evidence that the programme being suggested was not appropriate – since the prisoner did not have a personality disorder – and that his risk could now be managed safely in the community. The Parole Board adjourned the case asking the Offender Manager to amend the prisoner’s risk management plan. This she did and following the adjourned hearing the Parole Board directed Prisoner A’s release.

Case Study 2: Judicial Review Case for Disabled Prisoner Being Denied Basic Care

PAS represented disabled Prisoner B, who, although paralysed from the chest down, was not receiving any specialist care. He was having many falls and was developing pressure sores since he was not able to wash himself properly. We sent a letter before claim to the prison and local authority requesting that they provide Prisoner B with the relevant care, to which he was entitled.

The prison immediately transferred him to a prison where his treatment was even worse. He was held in a cell where he was unable to access the toilet or shower and was having to defecate on the floor. PAS sent another pre-action letter and issued judicial review proceedings against the prison. Only then was Prisoner B moved to a more suitable cell. Damages claims for his previous treatment were referred to other solicitors. (In fact, although Prisoner B was moved to a better cell he was still not always receiving all the care he needed. However, he didn’t want us to take any further action because he was worried he would simply be shipped out to another prison where conditions would, again, be horrific.)

In Conclusion

Prisoners’ Advice Service remains most grateful to GlobalGIving for helping to support our work with female and disabled prisoners in England and Wales.

Without the assistance of charitable organisations such as your own, the work that we do with vulnerable prisoners would be severely curtailed.

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Wandsworth Prison
Wandsworth Prison

Updated GlobalGiving Report

1 October to 31 December 2017

Author: Geof Jarvis; Fundraising and Communications Manager, PAS

Delivery of Outreach Clinics for Women and Disabled Prisoners

Since our last report, your kind donations have continued to help us to expand our outreach services for women and the disabled in prison across England and Wales.

Our Services for Women Prisoners

Over the course of the last three months – October, November and December 2017 – PAS continued to deliver Outreach Clinics in women’s prisons, providing 11 clinics in six prisons during this period: HMPs Bronzefield in Surrey, Downview in Surrey, Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire, New Hall in West Yorkshire, Styal in Cheshire and Send in Surrey.  Over the three month period, we helped 82 women face-to-face through Outreach Clinics alone. 

In addition, we received a total of 61 letters and phone calls from women prisoners – from those prisons listed above, and from the remaining women’s prisons: HMPs Askham Grange in North Yorkshire, Drake Hall in Staffordshire, East Sutton Park in Kent, Foston Hall in Derbyshire, Low Newton in County Durham and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire. 

Working with Disabled Prisoners

Over the last three months, your support has helped support our Community Care Caseworkers to deliver five Outreach Clinics in two prisons: HMPs Pentonville and Thameside (both in London).  During clinics, our Caseworkers held 46 face-to-face meetings with individual, disabled prisoners.   Your grant also helped Caseworkers to respond to a total of 51 telephone calls and letter enquiries from disabled prisoners during this three month window.

PAS helps prisoners with disabilities to obtain the auxiliary aids that they require, for example, crutches, wheelchairs, etc.  We assist prisoners to gain access to prison workshops and to education classes. Our caseworkers can request that such classes be moved to the ground floor if disabled access to upper floors is not possible. We also work to ensure extended library book loans for dyslexic prisoners and the provision of large print books for visually impaired prisoners.

Case Study 1: Prisoner granted Resettlement Overnight Release (ROR)

PAS received a request for help from prisoner A, a woman who was at risk of being released homeless three weeks hence. Her application for Resettlement Overnight Release (ROR) to see her four children and sort out accommodation for her upcoming release had been refused by the prison. Without accommodation, she could not be reunited with her children upon release.

The prisoner’s concern to be with her children and resume her role as their sole carer was acute as one of her daughters was undergoing tests for a terminal illness.

PAS’ Caseworker wrote to the prison challenging the legality of its policy to deny ROR in the last 28 days of sentence, and their failure to consider the rights, and best interests, of the children.  Within 24 hours of PAS’ intervention, the prison reversed its decision and granted ROR to the prisoner.

Case Study 2: Prisoner with Mental Health Difficulties before Parole Board

Prisoner B, serving a life sentence, had been in prison for 12 years beyond her tariff (minimum custodial period) and was applying to the Parole Board to be transferred to an open prison. She had a history of suffering from severe anxiety prior to Parole Board hearings but had worked very hard at addressing her mental health difficulties over the last two years.

By attending one-to-one psychology appointments on a regular basis, she had become better able to manage her stress levels. Having established a relationship with her, it was possible to provide her with support and reassurance throughout the process, particularly leading up to the hearing. PAS represented her at the hearing and helped her satisfy the panel that she could be safely managed in an open setting. As a result, she has now been transferred to an open prison.

Case Study 3: Better Treatment for Terminally Ill Disabled Prisoner

Our Community Care Caseworker recently assisted disabled, terminally ill prisoner, C,  who was serving a short sentence. Although he was a Category C (lower security classification) prisoner, he was being held in a Category B (higher security) prison - as it was deemed better suited to meet his health needs. Even so, the care he received was woefully inadequate.

He was placed upstairs and therefore could not leave his cell or even go outside for fresh air. He also required a special diet to avoid potentially choking, but the food provided was not appropriate for his condition. Our Caseworker sent a pre-action letter to Government Solicitors. This resulted in him being moved to a Category C prison. She then made categorisation representations which got him de-categorised to Category D (lowest security). However, the prison refused to transfer him, claiming that his medical needs needed him to be on medical hold. We eventually resolved this through correspondence and he is now finally in a Category D (open conditions) prison, with suitable medical facilities.

In Conclusion

Prisoners’ Advice Service remains most grateful to GlobalGIving for helping to support our work with female and disabled prisoners in England and Wales. 

Without the assistance of charitable organisations such as your own, the work that we do with vulnerable prisoners would be severely curtailed. 

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Updated Global Giving Report

1 July to 30 September 2017

Delivery of Outreach Clinics for Women and Disabled Prisoners

Since our last report, your kind donations have continued to help us to expand our outreach services for women and the disabled in prison across England and Wales.

Our Services for Women Prisoners

Over the course of the last three months – July, August, September 2017 – PAS has continued to deliver more Outreach Clinics in women’s prisons, providing 11 clinics in six prisons: HMPs Bronzefield, Downview and Send (all in Surrey), Eastwood Park (in Gloucestershire), New Hall (in West Yorkshire) and Styal (in Cheshire). Over the three month period, we helped 92 women face-to-face through Outreach Clinics alone.  We also received seven letters and fielded 28 calls to our Advice Line from these prisons in the same period. 

In addition, we received a total of three letters and seven phone calls from other women’s prisons in England (there are no women’s prisons in Wales). These were, HMPs Askham Grange (in North Yorkshire), Drake Hall (in Staffordshire), Foston Hall (in Derbyshire), Low Newton (in County Durham) and Peterborough (in Cambridgeshire). 

Working with Disabled Prisoners

Over the last three months, your support has helped support our Community Care Caseworkers to deliver seven Outreach Clinics in two prisons: HMPs Pentonville and Thameside (both in London).  During clinics, our Caseworkers held 39 face-to-face meetings with individual, disabled prisoners.   Your grant also helped Caseworkers to deal with 84 telephone calls and 11 letter enquiries from these prisons during this three month window.

PAS helps prisoners with disabilities to obtain the auxiliary aids that they require, for example, crutches, wheelchairs, etc. We assist prisoners to gain access to prison workshops and to education classes. Our caseworkers can request that such classes be moved to the ground floor if disabled access to upper floors is not possible. We also work to ensure extended library book loans for dyslexic prisoners and the provision of large print books for visually impaired prisoners.

Some prisons, local authorities, probation services and NHS Trusts fail to meet their legal responsibilities towards prisoners with physical and mental disabilities both during their time in prison and when they are due for release. We liaise and negotiate with these bodies and, where necessary, issue Judicial Review claims against them if they fail to meet their duties towards such prisoners. 

Case Study 1: Female Disabled Prisoner Moved to a Suitable Prison

Ms K has multiple physical and mental health issues including anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and severe Cervical Spondylosis leading to chronic pain and lack of mobility. She was incarcerated in an unadjusted, completely unsuitable, prison cell.

One of our Community Care Caseworkers helped Ms K to secure a transfer to a modern prison facility with a modified cell suitable for her needs. She is now eligible for parole, her mental health is much improved and her physical condition is stable.

Ms K commented on our assistance: “PAS supported me all through my sentence and has been phenomenal, excellent and immeasurable. I will forever be grateful and sing of PAS’ services everywhere, now and in the future.”

Case Study 2: De-categorisation for Terminally Ill Disabled Prisoner

Our Community Care Caseworker recently assisted terminally ill disabled prisoner, Mr M, who was serving a short sentence as a Category C (lower security classification) prisoner. However, as it was deemed better suited to meet his health needs, he was being held in a Category B (higher security) prison.  Regardless, the care that he was receiving was woefully inadequate.

Mr M had been allocated a cell on an upstairs landing. As he was therefore unable to manage the stairs, he was virtually confined to his cell and prevented from going outside for fresh air.  Mr M also required a special diet to avoid potential choking, but the food provided was not appropriate to his condition. 

Our Caseworker sent a pre-action letter to Government Solicitors. This resulted in him being moved to a Category C prison. She then made categorisation representations, which got him de-categorised to Category D (lowest security). The prison initially refused to transfer him, claiming that his medical needs required him to be on medical hold.  PAS finally resolved this through correspondence with the prison, and Mr M is now being held in a Category D (open conditions) prison, with medical facilities suitable to his needs.

In Conclusion

Prisoners’ Advice Service remains most grateful to GlobalGIving for helping to support our work with female and disabled prisoners in England and Wales. Without the assistance of charitable organisations such as your own, the work that we do with vulnerable prisoners would be severely curtailed. 

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Organization Information

Prisoners' Advice Service

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Twitter: @PrisonersAdvice
Project Leader:
Geof Jarvis
Mr
London, United Kingdom

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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