Vicky Pryce: Most women jailed due to men in their life
- 14 October 2013
- From the section UK Politics
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.
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."
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.
"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."