Vicky Pryce: Most women jailed due to men in their life

Vicky Pryce Vicky Pryce adopted a defence of marital coercion at her trial

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Most women in Holloway prison are there because of something the men in their life have done, recently jailed Vicky Pryce has told the BBC.

The former wife of ex-minister Chris Huhne was sentenced to eight months for perverting the course of justice after taking speeding points for him.

"I did something, I paid the price," she told Radio 4's Today programme.

The economist - who had claimed her husband coerced her - has written a book about the economics of prison.

Her royalties from the book will go to the charity Working Chance, which helps women with criminal convictions find work.

Pryce, who was recently stripped of her Companion of the Order of the Bath, served two months in the north London prison earlier this year.

Some women "were victims themselves" before they committed an offence, says Pryce

Huhne, the former energy secretary, was also jailed for the same offence.

He left Pryce in 2010 as his affair with PR adviser Carina Trimingham was about to be exposed.

During the former couple's trial, the court heard Pryce had revealed the speeding points scandal to newspapers in 2011 to seek revenge.

Asked whether she agreed with Chris Huhne's assessment that they had fallen victim to the Murdoch press, she said: "I don't begrudge anyone in terms of what's happened - or any of the journalists frankly - in my view one has to just look forward.

"I did something, I paid the price of it and that is it."

'Learn from it'

On the prospect of going to prison, Ms Pryce said she knew it was "something I simply had to survive and perhaps learn from it obviously, and see what goes on".

The worst aspect of prison life was "losing my liberty, but mostly worrying about my children - that they would be worried about me and how do I react to ensure that they feel that 'actually I'm ok'.

"And of course that meant that I also had to stay strong."

Holloway Prison Vicky Pryce spent part of her sentence in HMP Holloway in north London

On the claim in her book that many women in Holloway were there mostly because of something their husbands, brothers and fathers had done, she said: "Clearly they knew what they were doing but it didn't mean that they necessarily wanted to do what they did.

"Vulnerable women who often have lost their self esteem - they could be prostitutes, they could be people who are stealing to feed their, but also their other-half's, drug habits.

Start Quote

There's been a huge increase in the numbers of prisoners, although crime is going down”

End Quote Vicky Pryce

"More than 50% of women who enter jail have been physically, sexually, or emotionally abused. And those are statistics quoted by everybody.

"Of course you are [responsible for your actions] and they were. The thing to remember is that they were very vulnerable at the time they were doing it and they remain vulnerable.

"The interesting thing is that jail doesn't do anything to take that away from them and they leave prison after a while, go back into society and they find themselves in exactly the same position and they re-offend."

She said there had been surprises, such as Holloway's reception area which meant she hadn't felt "threatened" by entering it. "It felt that somebody worried about you," she said.

On how well the prison system was coping, she said: "There's been a huge increase in the numbers of prisoners, although crime is going down.

"The causality doesn't work that way. The causality works in a way that says in fact crime has been reducing because of things to do with technology - making it difficult to break into houses, difficult to break into cars - and all that sort of stuff, and yet the numbers have been going up very, very significantly.

"Women in particular, the numbers have gone up by 27% between 2000 and 2010, while crime has been coming down.

"It makes no sense at all. The costs are enormous. There are so many cheaper ways to deal with this whole issue, which is what the Prisonomics book is all about."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 770.

    @Violet Mildred

    I don't think Mike Tyson could coerce Vicky Price into doing anything

    She's as guilty as her husband

  • rate this

    Comment number 769.

    2 Hours ago
    So now we have convicted criminals trying to tell us how the justice system should work.
    Nothing wrong with that, there are many cases where criminals say that it is too easy in prison, ineffective and is not value for money; but they do so in a constructive way. Its the agenda not the content that stinks with Pryce.

  • rate this

    Comment number 768.

    By your argument the aim of feminism is to drag back the party in a 'position of power'. This seems terribly regressive. There's lots of emerging evidence that teams in the workplace are more productive with a 50:50 male/female split. I think this is great news! Why doesn't the ideology focus on both parties' combined strength instead of simply blaming men?

  • rate this

    Comment number 767.

    Sounds like her book could do with a little more research - how about another stint inside?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 766.

    Actually, the lesson in all this is that it is rather a good idea to tell the truth when asked a question"

    The second lesson is that, having broken the first rule, keep quiet about it if you never need to re-open the question. Then remember the advice "revenge is a dish best served cold".

  • rate this

    Comment number 765.

    A Man who marries, dates or courts a woman like that should be jailed!! Life without parole!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 764.

    No doubt many people in prison believe it’s someone else’s fault. Especially if they, like Pryce, don’t learn from the mistakes ‘they’ made (she just kept dodging the question this morning).

    However Pryce has swallowed this drivel from other prisoners and turned it into a feminism-related money-making scheme. Anything to get back into the spotlight after the world forgot about her.

  • rate this

    Comment number 763.

    It's quite entertaining to watch a post prison sentence trial by the sofa jury of the BBC, no doubt trained in the Emile Durkheim school of social science and evidence based public policy formation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 762.

    Are we saying that people can be pressurised in to doing something they don't want to and, if so, are women more prone to succumbing to this pressure than their male counterparts?

    If this is accepted then surely there is an economic argument for less women in management jobs because they are not equipped to carry out their role correctly? You can't have it both ways...

  • rate this

    Comment number 761.

    At the end of the day, we have to accept personal responsibly for our choices and actions. Blaming the results on a partner (either male or female) isn't and shouldn't be an excuse for lighter sentencing.

  • Comment number 760.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 759.

    "I'm afraid Ms Pryce is quite right - a waste of money and counter-productive putting most of these women away, not least because their children are taken into care."

    As an absent father is the biggest indicator of bad outcomes (including criminality) for children, a far stronger argument, along similar lines, could be made not to imprison men.

  • rate this

    Comment number 758.

    Who cares what this woman says? She's a liar and a common criminal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 757.

    Vicky Pryce (like her husband) went to prison simply so she could spite her husband. I'm not condoning the original crime but whatever they agreed to do, was really between them. no one ever needed to know. she went public just to bring him down and in the process she tore her family apart. I have no sympathy for her or any interest in what she has to say

  • rate this

    Comment number 756.

    Men make a blanket statement about women: sexism.
    Women make a blanket statement about men: equality.

    Never change, feminists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 755.

    The sexism argument is completely mute. She committed a crime and deserved what she got.

    She's an adult, and can think for herself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 754.

    Why has this turned into a discussion on feminism? She committed her crime and she deserved to serve her time. Personal responsibility, male or female applies. Is there a male version of feminism? Some men do treat women terribly, some women are screaming banshee's who are intolerable to have around. Time to stop treating everyman as a woman beating rapist, equality is a two way street.

  • rate this

    Comment number 753.

    Most men are in prison due to their mothers giving birth to them

  • rate this

    Comment number 752.

    From what I've seen of Vicky Pryce, she does not strike me as the sort of person who would allow anyone to coerce her into doing anything that she was not already prepared to do herself. Nor does she strike me as vulnerable or lacking in self-esteem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 751.

    So it wasn't her fault that she broke the law, it was her husbands? She shows breathtaking arrogance and no remorse for what she did, she should be returned to prison to finish her sentance.


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