Women’s Imprisonment and the Case for Abolition: Critical Reflections on Corston Ten Years On (Paperback) book cover

Women’s Imprisonment and the Case for Abolition

Critical Reflections on Corston Ten Years On

Edited by Linda Moore, Phil Scraton, Azrini Wahidin

© 2018 – Routledge

204 pages

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In 2007, the Corston Report recommended a far-reaching, radical, ‘women-centred’ approach to women’s imprisonment in England and Wales. It suggested a ‘fundamental re-thinking’ about how services to support women in conflict with the law are delivered in custody and in the community, recommending the development and implementation of a decarceration strategy. This argued for appropriate treatment programmes in the community, reserving prison for only those women who commit serious and violent offences. Ten years on, what progress has been made? What is the relationship between Corston’s vision and a more radical abolitionist agenda?

Drawing on a range of international scholarship, this book contributes to the critical discourse on the penal system, human rights, and social injustice, revealing the consequences of imprisonment on the lives of women and their families. A decade on from Corston's publication, it critically reviews her report, revealing the slow progress in meeting the reforms it proposed. Identifying the significant barriers to change, it questions the failure to reverse the unrelenting growth of the women’s prison population or to transform state responses to women’s offending. Reflecting the global expansion of women’s imprisonment, particularly marked in advanced democratic societies, the chapters include comparative contributions from jurisdictions where Corston’s recommendations have relevance. It concludes with a critical appraisal of reformism and the case for penal abolition.

Essential for applied and theory courses on prisons, punishment, and penology; social justice and the criminology of human rights; gender and crime; and feminist criminology.


"This collection provides an important and timely contribution to current thinking regarding the use (and misuse) of incarceration throughout the world. 10 years after the death of Ashley Smith in Canada and the Corston Report in Britain, the authors provide valuable insights and analyses of the state of related reform efforts in both jurisdictions. This book urges readers to critically re-examine the norming and global reliance on the use of prisons and punishment and will hopefully inspire a future of decolonizing and decarceration, in favour of investment in and commitment to social, economic, racial and gender equality. "

- Senator Kim Pate, Senate of Canada, former Executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

"This is a book that demands our immediate attention. Across the world women are pipelined from lives of poverty, trauma, mental illness and marginalisation to lives of prison incarceration. Every writer in this impressive collection reports on the abject failure that penal solutions offer to women in trouble. Reform is not an option. The only solution is to abolish female imprisonment and to confront the economic and political issues which promote social injustice."

- Professor Penny Green, Queen Mary University of London

Table of Contents

Introduction (Linda Moore, Phil Scraton and Azrini Wahidin)

1. The Post-Corston Women’s Penal ‘Crisis’ in England and Wales: exploring the failure of reform (Linda Moore and Azrini Wahidin)

2. After Corston: Community, Change, and Challenges (Loraine Gelsthorpe)

3. From 'troubled' women, to failing institutions: The necessary narrative shift for the decarceration of women post-Corston (Becky Clarke and Kathryn Chadwick)

4. The Imprisonment of Women in Scotland: Restructure, Reform or Abolish? (Margaret Malloch)

5. Post-Corston Reflections on Remanded Women’s Experiences in Northern Ireland (Gillian McNaull)

6. Corston Principles in Canada: Creating the Carceral Other and Moving Beyond Women in Prison (Vicki Chartrand and Jennifer M. Kilty)

7. In Pursuit of Fundamental Change within the Australian Penal Landscape: Taking Inspiration from the Corston Report (Julie Stubbs and Eileen Baldry)

8. ‘Ukhohliwe’: A South African Perspective on the Corston Report (Lillian Artz)

9. Beyond Corston: The Politics of Decarceration and Abolition in a Punitive Climate (Phil Scraton and Bree Carlton)


About the Editors

Linda Moore is Senior Lecturer in Criminology in the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences at Ulster University, UK.

Phil Scraton is Professor of Criminology in the School of Law, Queens University of Belfast, UK.

Azrini Wahidin is Professor of Criminology and Criminology Justice and Associate Dean for Research and Innovation in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Law, Teesside University, UK.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology