In preparation for this debate, I was struck by a quote that appears in the Scottish Office's 1998 paper "Women Offenders—A Safer Way". The quote dates from 1970, when the Government felt confident enough to suggest that
"'It may well be that as the end of the century draws nearer, penological progress will result in even fewer or no women at all being given prison sentences'" and that
"'...other forms of penalty will be devised which will reduce the numbers of women necessarily taken from their homes'".
Given the subsequent explosion in the number of women we are jailing—the number has reached record levels—and given that alternative penalties were devised, we are surely entitled to ask what went wrong.