Anna Graven, a 41-year-old woman, was serving an eight-week sentence for shoplifting when she died in her cell Sunday, the Derby Telegraph reported. Paramedics tried to revive her at the Derbyshire Foston Hall Prison where she was being held, but they couldn't help. Graven was pronounced dead shortly after she was found unresponsive.
The cause of death was not immediately known. Graven’s death comes amid a national debate in the U.K. over a possible reduction in the number of females incarcerated in the prison system. Roughly 80 percent of women in British prisons are there for nonviolent crimes, and women convicted of a crime are twice as likely as men to have prior convictions, Vice reported.
“It is a really alarming case and we have to question why women are still being locked up for nonviolent crimes when they could be successfully accommodated in the community,” Deborah Coles of the group Inquest, a social justice organization that focuses on in-prison deaths, told the Guardian.
— DERBYSHIRE (@DailyDERBYS) August 10, 2015
Politicians have said that the justice system cannot always look at women the same way it does men. According to a report by the Prison Reform Trust, 53 percent of female prisons have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse as children, as opposed to 27 percent of men, and about 60 percent of female prisoners had children still dependent on them. The study also found that less than 10 percent of children separated from their incarcerated mother have their father to take care of them, and only 5 percent of these children get to stay in their homes when their mothers are in prison.
In the United States, the death of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail after a traffic stop has also stirred debate about prison and jail suicides and deaths.