I have spoken to many women here about their ‚‘crimes'‘ and it is clear to me that the vast majority of them are imprisoned either because they have a drug habit, mental health problems, or because they have struggled to survive and support their children.

If society had supported and cared for these women, the prison would be virtually empty. Locking up people who need help is not the solution as it creates more problems. It breaks up families and puts innocent children in care, it drives people to take more drugs because they cannot cope with the isolation, and on release women have even more problems because prison has caused them to lose their homes and jobs.

I have seen women come to jail clean and leave with a drug habit, and I fail to see how that benefits anybody. I have met women with severe learning difficulties who do not even understand why they are here, and it breaks my heart to see newborn babies living in prison with their mothers. It is no way to begin your life.

Change is long overdue and we need to see an end to a system that creates more problems then solutions. Prison would be unneccesary if the support was there and we started looking after each other.

Nicci Tapping
Animal rights prisoner sentenced to 15 months imprisonment.