Our legal work
Our legal service for children and young people in custody was established in 2002. We give children and young people in custody advice about how to improve their treatment and conditions and make sure they are released from prison safely with the support they are entitled to. Children and young people can call us from prison on our free legal advice line. The legal news page provides updates on calls to our advice line and the work of the legal team.
Our parliamentary work
Our parliamentary work includes lobbying, responding to consultations and briefing MPs and Peers. We work closely with politicians at a local and national level to achieve our political objectives. We have established an All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System, chaired by Baroness Corston.
Everything we do is focused on achieving our core campaign objectives. We campaign on a wide range of issues including community programmes, including the Community Programmes Awards, women in prison, children and young adults and real work in prison and prison overcrowding.
The Howard League for Penal Reform has a strong and long history of working alongside the academic and research communities. We are currently establishing a range of initiatives to strengthen and broaden this area of work.
U R Boss
U R Boss project, funded by the Big Lottery for a period of five years, was launched in 2009 and provided an enhanced legal service for children and young people, as well as involving them in a national programme of participation to give them a say and helping them to design and guide penal policy.
While U R Boss ended in July 2014, the Howard League continues to work with young people through our service and participation work.
- The Commission on Sex in Prison focused on consensual and coercive sex in prison and looked at the healthy sexual development among young people in prison.
- The All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System inquiry on girls focused on policy and practice regarding girls and investigated decisions which route girls away from or into the criminal justice system.
- Our inquiry into former armed services personnel in prison sought to discover the reasons why veterans enter the penal system and looked for good practice and new ideas.
- Lord Carlile of Berriew QC conducted public hearings on the use of force on children in custody marking the five year anniversary of Lord Carlile's independent inquiry into the use of physical restraint, solitary confinement and forcible strip searching of children in penal custody.
- Commission on English Prisons Today. Over a period of two years this independent Commission looked at the driving forces influencing change and practice including legislation, politics and the media.
Our publications include a comprehensive range of books, reports and briefing papers which can be purchased online. We also offer a number of our publications to download for free.
Our student groups in universities throughout England and Wales, organise discussions and debates, raising awareness of penal reform issues and supporte our work through fundraising and campaigns. We support our students withtraining and opportunities for volunteering and internships.
What is justice? Re-imagining penal policy
The Howard League Symposium seeks to develop innovative, credible and challenging ideas that build into models to change penal practice and outcomes. It will be charged with generating the climate and the intellectual debate that can act as the springboard to contest the conventional role of the penal system and ultimately promote a new, achievable paradigm that will deliver a reduced role for the penal system while maintaining public confidence, fewer victims of crime and safer communities. The challenge will be to develop an agenda for change that counters the current mores of penal populism.
The Howard League for Penal Reform has consultative status with the United Nations and the Council of Europe and works closely with other voluntary organisations, campaigning to improve the penal system across the world. We have produced a range of resources and publications on international penal issues and regularly attend international conferences.