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RLC discuss “Endless Sentences” faced by Women in the Criminal Justice System

27. Jul 2021

RLC presented ‘Endless Sentences’ in partnership with Clean Break Theatre earlier this year. Hosted by Gillian Jones QC, Joint Head of Red Lion Chambers, panel members (Harriet Wistrich, Founding Director at Centre for Women’s Justice; Ambreen Razia, Actress and Playwright; Róisín McBrinn, Joint Artistic Director at Clean Break; Amanda Richardson, Clean Break Trustee and Jennifer Joseph, Actor and Member of Clean Break) explored the issues relating to how communities can seemingly extend women’s sentences after their release from prison and watched scenes from Clean Break’s upcoming play ‘The Favour’ written by Ambreen Razia.

Gillian Jones QC has sat for many years on the Developmental Board at Clean Break Theatre and is an active member of the legal referral panel for the Centre for Women’s Justice. Gilly chaired and introduced the Webinar informing the audience about the work of Clean Break and its mission to bring more awareness of women in the criminal justice system through the art of theatre and storytelling:

Ambreen Razia, Actress and Writer of ‘The Favour’ spoke about her inspiration for writing the play working with charities such as The Southall Black Sisters and The Muslim Women in Prison Project co-founded by Sofia Buncy. Ambreen specifically addressed the effects on South Asian women who have completed prison sentences yet find themselves serving a “second sentence” when attempting to assimilate back into their communities.

Founder and Director Harriet Wistrich from the Centre for Women’s Justice who had joined the panel, discussed with Gillian Jones QC the key measures the Criminal Justice System could be targeting to help combat the issue of “endless sentences” women face post sentence.

The discussion explored how education and mindsets needed to be changed to avoid stigmatisation within communities. Harriet also spoke about the challenges around seeking employment, the need for discretion within the Disclosure and Barring Scheme particularly with regards to disclosure, a look at the retention of records and how they were managed and why women who had been through sexual exploitation could provide support to young women having lived through the experience themselves:

During the webinar, Harriet also spoke about a recent CWJ report which was the culmination of a four- year research study with a range of practitioners from within the criminal justice system. The report entitled “Women Who Kill: How the state criminalises Women we might otherwise be burying” examined ways in which the criminal justice system respond to women who kill abusive men and how women are prevented from accessing justice:

For more information on Clean Break please see: [Clean Break]
For more information on Centre of Women’s Justice see: [Centre for Women's Justice]

Disclaimer: Due to a large part of this webinar discussing sensitive and confidential matters, only the clips above are for public use.