Who are they?
Established in 1866, the Howard League for Penal Reform is a charity campaigning for important change within the justice system.
The Howard League is the oldest penal reform charity in the UK and gets it’s name from John Howard, who was one of the first prison reformers.
Funded entirely by donations and memberships, The Howard League campaigns on a range of issuesincluding reducing child arrests, ending the criminalisation of children in residential care, andconfronting issues within prisons themselves.
What do they do?
The main aim for the organisation is to reduce crime, and have fewer people in our UK prisons, alongside creating safer communities. Within this they campaign for a wide range of meaningful change.
You can find out much more about the important and varied things they do by visiting their website, but within this blog I wanted to focus on just a few of the services they provide.
Their legal work
The Howard League has the only frontline national legal team specialising in the legal rights of children and young people in custody. The legal team within the charity finds the issues within the justice system for children and young adults. They provide advice and solutions for the individuals involved, and then create changes within policies in order to prevent other young people experiencing the same problems.
The charity will also look at individual cases, either intheir own name or through interventions, in order to help shape the law. On their website there is a press release on a judicial review, bought by the charity on behalf of a boy who was held in prolonged solitary confinement in a London prison… find out more here.
The Howard League for Penal Reform is often used in a consultation role by policy makers when they are in need of expert advice. The charity was one of the first organisations to be given consultative status by the United Nations and the Council of Europe. Briefings dating from 2015 is available to view on their website.
Their advice line
The charity host a free advice line, and the number is available on the pin of every person in prison under the age of 21. Casework on a wide array of issues is able to be provided. Assistance to aid resettlement back in to the community is essential work, which The Howard League are ready and willing to undertake.
Their response to COVID-19 and Prisons
On their website, there is a list of items which they have successfully requested or responded to in the face of the global pandemic.
The charity began their proactive movement on the 11th March. A letter was written to Rt Robert Buckland QC MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, asking for a statement regarding what precautions he is taking on coronavirus in prisons. The full timeline of action is continued here, including the calls they made for the early release programme in order to protect prisoners, staff and the public.
How do I find out more?
There are many ways in which you can find out more about this charity, and ways in which you can support the campaigns they run, and not necessarily financially. You can become a member, which is the primary way in which the charity gains funding and can therefore continue. Membership starts at £2 per month, and a family membership is just £5 per month. Prisoners and their families are offered free membership. Donations are also always welcome; details can be found online. If you just want to know a little more, then you can sign up to receive updates via email too.