Michael Gove: Archers stabbing plot reinforces case for prison reform0
He told the magazine: “We need radically to reform how we treat women offenders. At the moment, too many women are in jail. A prison sentence not only punishes them, but also makes life much tougher for their children.
“We need to make sure women in custody are treated better, to think hard about how we support their families but, above all, to ensure fewer women are sent to prison in the first place.”
The Archers storyline is set to mutate into a courtroom drama, with Helen defending herself against the allegations that she tried to kill her husband. Mr Gove refused to call for her release.
A spokesman for the justice secretary added: “Judicial independence is a precious thing. It’s for the court hearing each case to determine the outcome.”
Listeners to the Archers have heard how Helen is to be transferred to a mother and baby unit, ahead of giving birth to her child. In real life, there are only 64 places available in such units, in England and Wales.
Two babies a week are born in the prison system, in England and Wales. Women serving short sentences are allowed to keep their child up until the age of 18 months, but for those serving longer stretches, their babies are removed at around seven months old.