As the prison population rises, more and more women are being locked up. Critics, however, believe women offenders should be treated differently from men and now the government has outlined plans to build female rehabilitation centres as an alternative to jail.
The fact the female prison population has nearly trebled in the last 10 years will be of little concern to some people. The punishment fits the crime, they may say.
But the government is investigating another option. Home Secretary Charles Clarke has just allocated £9m to build two new female rehabilitation centres, following two pioneering schemes in Glasgow and Worcester. Mr Clarke is concerned that locking up women breaks up families.