The women incarcerated at Holloway didn’t know it would close, but after George Osbourne announced that it would, their lives rapidly changed.
600 women kept at Holloway were rushed into prisons outside of London – crowded into facilities that weren’t ready to house people, and others that were at full capacity. People were doubling up in cells, deprived of decent food and struggling to access medical services. Support services and voluntary sector organisations, many based in London, are under even greater strain to support women inside. For many women, the move has forced them further from their communities, from support services in London, and from their loved ones, including their children, who now struggle to afford visits outside the city.
As the government closes old prisons and builds larger ones, prison conditions in the UK are getting worse – more women are incarcerated, and more are dying - 18 women, including Sarah Reed in Holloway, have died in prison this year alone. Holloway was used to incarcerate women who were 'ringleaders' in Yarl's Wood hunger strikes, and prisons are being used more and more to incarcerate migrants when detention centres are full. The government’s response? Employ more prison officers, rather than deal with the conditions that push people into prison – systematic racism, poverty, and lack of housing