Dying on the Inside provides a comprehensive examination of INQUEST’s casework on the 115 women’s deaths in prison between 1990 – 2007. Concerns about inadequate treatment and neglect raised by the increasing number of women dying in prison resulted in the Women’s Deaths in Prison project which examined the issues arising in detail.

The report was launched at the House of Commons on 2 April 2008, and is available to purchase below. 

The report:

  • Documents and examines the individual deaths in the context of the policies and practices in place across the women’s prison estate and the role of other state agencies and the wider criminal justice system.
  • Uniquely brings the views of bereaved families to the discussion.
  • Makes extensive recommendations and presents families’ suggestions for changes in practice.
  • Identifies trends and patterns arising from the deaths.
  • Makes three overarching recommendations for the abolition of prison as the central response to women in the criminal justice system and the greater use of radical community based alternatives; non means tested public funding for families legal representation following deaths; and for the creation of a Standing Commission on Custodial Deaths which would include a thematic stream on the deaths of women in prison.

Dying on the Inside is essential reading for all those with an interest in the issue of women’s imprisonment. The book is illustrated throughout with drawings of women in HMP Holloway by Lucy Edkins.

“The clear message from this book is that prison is not an appropriate place for women. We hope the government will listen to that message…the message that comes across to me is that these are all preventable deaths, that is the saddest point that can be made.” Julie Morgan MP, speaking at the book launch in the House of Commons, April 2008

” …a clearly argued plea for change from an organisation with decades of experience of what happens when things go wrong. It is time that government accepted the proposals and implemented at least the urgent interim measures set out in the report.” Stephen Cragg,  Doughty Street Chambers, in The Times ‘Public Agenda’, 13 May 2008

About the authors

  • Marissa Sandler has advocated for women’s human rights issues in Australia. She worked at Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission on issues of gender equality, including women’s experiences in the criminal justice system.
  • Deborah Coles is co-director of INQUEST and co-author of In The Care of the State? and Unlocking The Truth.


Hard copies are also available on request, contact us here.