‘Justice Minister needs to look at sentencing of vulnerable women’ – Ruane

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Thursday, November 29th, 2012
Sinn Féin MLA Caitriona Ruane has said that the Justice Minister needs to look at how the courts are dealing with vulnerable women. Her comments come after the Prisoner Ombudsman’s report into the death of 23-year-old Francis McKeown in Hydebank Wood in 2011. Speaking to Newry Times, Ms Ruane said: “There is no doubt that many of the women in jail are vulnerable with emotional and mental health problems and should not be in prison in the first place. “A lot of them are also in prison for non-violent crime including the non payment of fines. The Justice Minister needs to address this situation, which stems from decisions made in the courts. “The women’s section of the prison is within a male prison and the women are often verbally abused. There is clearly a need for a stand-a-lone women’s prison. Ruane added, “The recommendations in the Prison Ombudsman’s report need to be acted upon as soon as possible both by the Prison Service and the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust but the Justice Minister also needs to look at how the courts are dealing with vulnerable women.”
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