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E-petition To Keep York's Women's Prison Open.


8:52am 6th December 2013

Prison officers worried about losing their jobs have launched an e-petition to keep York's women's prison open. They say Askham Grange works well and helps women get their lives back on track.

In a letter to York Outer MP Julian Sturdy, prison officers are asking for his support.

Here's the letter they sent:

"I am writing to see if we can get your support against the closure of our female open prison and East Sutton Park. The staff and women that we have here are absolutely devastated at this, and cannot believe that this is happening. I am a long time serving prison officer for HMP.

"We are a high performing prison, and are ranked in the top 5 in the country. We were set a cut budget last year and came in 10% below this. We care about what we do here and full emphasis is on rehabilitation and resettlement, which this government are trying to achieve. We have been doing this many years with excellent results, and have very low reoffending rates. We also have a superb mother and baby unit, and work in conjunction with Barnados to provide superior nursery care, which is better than many outside community places.

"Staff assaults are very rare and it is a very safe place to work and reside for all concerned.

"We also have a facility here (a house at the bottom of our grounds) which is unique within the prison service, which allows our women to have their children, up to adult age to come and stay with their mothers and provide valuable family ties.

"In this day and age, it is a pleasure to see our women progress, especially Life sentenced ones, and find outworking jobs, in which they continue to do so on release.

"We create money within the prison through our gardens, hairdressing conference  facilities, and have a business enterprise unit which involves telesales, and twitter accounts for outside businesses.

"I could understand the closure if we didn’t perform highly, and not give anything back into the community but we do. A lot of women do community work, and thus gain further skills, and gain confidence which is often lacking.

"The residents here are very upset and unsettled, and do not want to back step to closed prisons especially our life sentenced ladies who have worked hard to gain the status of being in open conditions. If we and HMP East Sutton park close as the government want, there will be no Open prisons left in England for these women, which is discrimination in itself.

"Please could you see it in yourself to offer support to us, and help us to stay open. We have begun an E-petition on HM Government petition site, titled “Petition against the closure of female open prisons”, and we are trying to get as many signatures as possible so the topic can be brought into parliament and discussed. Would you be able to post it on your twitter account too."

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