Britain's prisons, unless we're lucky, could possibly give the government a pre-Christmas present they wouldn't like at all. Violence, self-harm and suicide are rising exponentially, and a system that's been creaking at the seams for years is like a boiler with a screwed-down safety valve. If it finally blows, the result could be catastrophic.
We all took the view that public sympathy is with the women who are in effect sentenced to the equivalent of a death penalty whilst their children suffer the consequences. When they ask me - where were you Mummy when all these women were dying in prison, I will be proud to say I was at the HLE Debate and we didn't just talk about change we made it happen.
The Ministry of Justice has published details of how its new child super-prisons ("secure colleges") will be run. Sold as all about putting "education at the heart of custody", the plans are scant on detail about how children will be helped via education and health services, but contain 15 astonishing pages on discipline, punishment and control.
Last week the House of Lords considered the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill as it makes its way through parliament. There are a number of controversial aspects of this Bill - mandatory prison sentences for knife crimes have caught the public's attention. Plans to change the rules on judicial review have got Peers, lawyers and children's charities very worried.
Imagine a country where, at the stroke of a pen and without any recourse to a judge, a faceless Government official can deprive someone of their liberty and, at the stroke of a pen, consign them indefinitely to what to all intents and purposes is a prison, without them having being charged with or convicted of any crime. That country is Britain. And if you thought that this use of state power was characteristic only of dictatorships or tyrannies, then think again, as it's happening here, on our doorstep, under our noses, without any fuss and certainly without any publicity.
For many of the women who take these chances for better work or education, prison, or sometimes detention centres, can be a terrifying ordeal. With a lack of family presence and a very likely language and culture barrier, getting the right advice or support can be almost impossible for foreign national women,