HM Prison Askham Grange
|Location||Askham Richard, North Yorkshire|
|Security class||Adult Female/Young Offenders|
|Population||102 (as of October 2016)|
|Managed by||HM Prison Services|
|Governor||Susan Howard (2016- )|
|Website||Askham Grange at justice.gov.uk|
In 1973 Susan McCormick was appointed Governor at Askham Grange, becoming (at 28) "the youngest ever governor or warden of a women's prison in Britain." McCormick went on to introduce programmes of rehabilitation in the prison for soon-to-be released prisoners (a relatively new idea at the time).
In 1979 two inmates founded the Clean Break (theatre company) at Askham Grange. Today Clean Break is a theatre, education and new writing company that works with women whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system. The group now have links with most women's prisons in the UK.
In 1997 the prison was the subject of the documentary Witness: Babies Behind Bars shown on Channel 4.
In 2001 two inmates from Askham Grange launched a High Court battle for the right to keep their babies with them in prison beyond the age of 18 months. The challenge failed, but launched a wider debate in the media about mother's rights and their children in prison.
The prison today
Askham Grange accepts adult females and female young offenders, and has space for ten mothers to maintain full-time care of their child or children whilst in custody. Inmates tend to have already served three years or more in other prisons, and are transferred to Askham Grange to complete the last part (maximum three years) of their sentence. Because of this the prison's main focus is the re-integration and re-settlement of prisoners into the community and preparation for life after prison.
Accommodation in the prison consists mainly of dormitories, though there are some single rooms. All prisoners in the Mother and Baby unit have their own rooms. The prison's education department mainly concentrates on vocational skills, and many prisoners are given work-placements outside the prison as part of their re-settlement plan.
Notable former inmates
- Mary Bell, the infamous child killer served out the last of her sentence at Askham Grange before being released in 1980.
- Helen John, a peace campaigner was held at Askham Grange for criminal damage whilst standing against Tony Blair in the UK 2001 General Election in his Sedgefield constituency
- "Now showing: Myra as Mary Magdalene! | World news". The Guardian. London. 2 March 1999. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
- "UK | Ruling against prison mothers". BBC News. 17 May 2001. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
- Ministry of Justice pages on HMP Askham Grange
- HMP Askham Grange - HM Inspectorate of Prisons Reports
- Clean Break Theatre Company