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Are human rights considerations adequately articulated in current sentencing guidelines?

18 February 2019

Joint Committee on Human Rights examines whether having your mother in prison affects you and your rights.

Purpose of the session

Last week the Committee heard from witnesses with lived experience of maternal imprisonment.

This second session will focus on sentencing decisions. Main issues for discussion include:

  • whether human rights considerations are adequately articulated in current sentencing guidelines
  • how they are implemented in practice
  • whether there should there be a stronger presumption against custodial sentences for mothers (or other primary carers) with dependent children.


Wednesday 20 February, Committee Room 8, Palace of Westminster.

At 3.15pm

  • Dr Jo Easton, Magistrates Association
  • Dr Jenny Earle, Prison Reform Trust
  • Dr Shona Minson, University of Oxford
  • Lord Justice Holroyde, Chair of the Sentencing Council.


  • Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) states that everyone has the right to respect for their private and family life. When courts sentence a parent with a dependent child, the Article 8 ECHR rights of both the parent and the child are engaged
  • In 2010 it was estimated that 17,240 children were separated from their mothers by imprisonment, whilst approximately 3,000 babies aged two years and under have their mothers imprisoned each year.
  • The MoJ estimates that between 24% and 31% of all women offenders have one or more children under 18.

Further information

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