UK minister calls for 'rebalancing criminal justice priorities' amidst prisons outcry Kiely Lewandowski at 12:15 PM ET
[JURIST] UK Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw [official profile] Monday called [speech text; press release] for a 'rebalancing of criminal justice priorities' amidst outrage expressed at newly released Ministry of Justice [official website] figures showing a sharp rise in the number of children born to female inmates. The Independentreported [news report] that according to official figures, 49 babies were born in prisons in England and Wales between April and the beginning of July this year, as compared to a total of 64 in 1995-96. Prison reform groups such as the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Prison Reform Trust [advocacy websites] quickly condemned the increase as inhumane and symptomatic of the over-incarceration of non-violent female offenders. In his speech Monday, Straw in turn criticized the strength of the UK prison reform lobby, arguing:
We hear loud and clear about the needs of offenders. But what about victims? The government as a whole has worked very hard to give a central voice and priority to victims, but we hear far less often from these lobbies about the needs of the victim. I think that they sometimes forget who the victim is, so lost do they become in a fog of platitudes and debate over the 'needs' of the offenders.
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