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We are all paying the social and economic costs of a criminal justice system dependent on overcrowded and ineffective prisons. We need to explore alternative approaches to build a more humane and sustainable criminal justice system for England and Wales, one that tackles the root causes of crime and dramatically cuts re-offender rates.

Key Facts

Featured Work

Publication // September 9, 2013

Better courts: cutting crime through court innovation

How can we meet the challenges facing our legal system?


Publication // December 10, 2012

Women’s community services: a wise commission

By helping women to make positive changes their lives, women’s community services can help reduce demands on state services including police, courts and offender management, prisons and social services, primary and emergency healthcare, and housing. They can also improve the long-term outcomes for the children of their clients.


Publication // March 1, 2010

Punishing Costs

Providing a prison bed in a Young Offender Institution costs about £100,000 per year. While these expenses are overwhelming, the results of Punishing Costs suggest that the long-term costs are even higher. Children that have gone through prison are more likely to be unemployed, to live in poverty and have unstable living conditions. They are also more likely to return to offending – making the overall reduction in crime created by prison very small.


Publication // November 25, 2008

Unlocking Value

nef’s research found that for every pound invested in support-focused alternatives to prison, £14 worth of social value is generated to women and their children, victims and society generally over ten years.

Not since the mid–19th century has our prison system held as many women as it does today. Many are repeat petty offenders, trapped in a cycle of deprivation, disadvantage, drug abuse and crime that the prison system is conspicuously failing to break.