This poses real problems in providing services and places female prisoners at increased risk from their young male counterparts and from each other.
Keeping male and female prisoners separate but still sharing space means both movement and access to services such as health care and educational programmes are restricted.
Limited space means fine defaulters and those serving life sentences can be housed together, creating challenges around issues like bullying and anti-social behaviour. Decisions on female prisoners are heavily influenced by space and resources when good practice and the best interests of the prisoner should be the only considerations.
While prison management do the best they can, Opportunity Youth believes separate facilities with tailor-made programmes on a different site would be the most effective means of assisting rehabilitation and helping prevent reoffending.
Women suffer in a criminal justice system designed for men. Opportunity Youth believes there are measures the Department of Justice can take to reduce the women’s prison population and decrease the damage prison can do to a woman’s life.
We urge the Justice Minister to become a champion for women in the criminal justice system and to ensure their needs are kept on the agenda and promote equitable treatment for women in prison.