Well the government's response to the damning Justice Affairs Committee report came on Friday in an announcement by Lord McNally:-
The Justice Select Committee said in July that the government's probation reforms had been designed with "male offenders in mind" and treated women as "an afterthought".
But Lord McNally, the Justice Minister, said he wanted to end female reoffending for good. "When a female offender walks out of the prison gates, I want to make sure she never returns," he said.
"Keeping female prisoners as close as possible to their homes, and importantly their children, is vital if we are to help them break the pernicious cycle of re-offending.
So, in an extraordinary twist of logic, Lord McNally and the government expect us all to believe that the situation will be improved, especially by "women being able to serve their sentences closer to home", by the novel method of closing prisons, including HMP Askham Grange and HMP East Sutton Park, and magically making all the others into 'resettlement prisons'.
Interestingly, these are the only 'open' prisons in the female estate and being based on large country houses in very desirable locations, will have little difficulty in converting to boutique hotels. It would be far too cynical to think that this was a factor in deciding they should close.
In addition it's proposed to close the mother and baby unit at HMP Holloway and create a new unit at HMP Bronzefield. HMP Downview will also return to being a male establishment. As Danny Shaw of the BBC sums up:-
The question of how best to deal with the comparatively small number of female prisoners has vexed ministers for years.
The key recommendation in a review by Lady Corsten, in 2007, was that women's jails should be replaced by small custodial hubs across England and Wales.
The Labour peer said female offenders needed to be as close to their families as possible.
That proposal has never been acted upon, though this review recognises that distances must be reduced: 37% of women prisoners are more than 50 miles from home.
Officials say the planned changes will result in a "small average reduction" in distance - but there are still no jails for women in Wales, and the closure of Askham Grange, East Sutton Park, the Holloway mother and baby unit, and the conversion of Downview Prison to a men's jail will cut capacity by 401 places.
It's hard to see - with so little spare room - the changes making a significant difference.Frances Crook of the Howard League is highly unimpressed with the proposals and castigated them in a number of tweets on Friday:-
There will be no open prisons for women, so women will be discriminated against in penal system
Ironic Askham & East Sutton Park open women's prisons run enterprises, which MoJ says it supports, so it closes them
Closing Askham Grange open prison will mean babies will be held in closed jails & separated from mothers when younger
Two thirds women currently located in a prison within 50 miles of home, will deteriorate as 2 open prisons to close
Closure of Holloway prison mother & baby unit & withdrawal of legal aid for mothers will mean babies being separated
The spin by MoJ on women in prison today is breathtaking. Women wont have any open prisons, mother & baby unit closing. Disgraceful.
There is nothing in MoJ statements about young women, so 18 year olds will be shoved in with older women in prison
MoJ closing mother and baby unit in Holloway prison, the sham of claim to keep women nearer their families
Simply not true, closing the only open prisons, closing mother & baby unit, women will be more distanced from family
Govt closing the 2 women's open resettlement prisons, shows falsity of claim to aid resettlement & closeness to home
I notice that the government chose to publish a review of services for women offenders in the community at the same time, no doubt in order to aid the spin they are trying to put on things.