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Overcrowding and high reoffending rates are the norm in the prison system according to an analysis of recent statistics by the Prison Reform Trust.
Sentencing reforms and other "sensible" changes proposed by the Ministry of Justice are under threat from Prime Minister David Cameron and his advisers.
Penal reform charities have has expressed broad support for the green paper on punishment and rehabilitation but have also made key recommendations.
The government is seeeking to limit the right to vote to prisoners serving sentences of less than one year
The Prison Reform Trust has commented on the government's proposals for all offenders sentenced to four years or more to be automatically barred from registering to vote.
Anglican Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has questioned the deterrent effect of imprisonment and severe prison sentencing.
Figures released by the Youth Justice Board today suggest that the case of the 10 and 11 year-olds convicted of attempted rape this week is not such a rare occurrence.