Belfast Telegraph

Beauty classes for female prisoners

Female prisoners in Northern Ireland are being trained in beauty therapy, it has been revealed.

The intention is to prepare inmates for employment upon release, Prison Service director-general Sue McAllister said.

Democratic Unionist Party South Down MLA Jim Wells said husband killer Hazel Stewart could be beautifying herself behind bars.

He said: " I would be concerned if taxpayers' money was being spent on making prisoners look like Twiggy (the 1960s model)."

Senior prisons management told Stormont's justice committee they encouraged part-time work while in custody as part of the rehabilitation process.

But Mr Wells added: "I don't believe a single penny should be spent on female prisoners to make them more beautiful.

"Unfortunately, many of their victims are lying in a coffin and they are certainly not beautiful."

He added: "I don't want female prisoners coming out of prison looking much better than when they went in."

During the first three months of this year 48 female prisoners were held at Hydebank, including eight lifers.

Stewart is in jail for the murders of her husband Constable Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell, the wife of her ex-lover Colin Howell.

Both murder victims were found in a fume-filled garage in Castlerock, County Londonderry, in May 1991 in what was made to look like a suicide pact.

Another notorious inmate is Jacqueline Crymble, who with her lover killed her husband Paul in June 2004 in Co Armagh in an execution-style murder.

Unrelated plans for young offenders from Hydebank Wood in Belfast to learn about techniques like stage lighting at the Lyric Theatre are in progress, a senior manager told the committee.

Prisoners at Maghaberry made holly wreathes and other Christmas decorations for charity last year.

Hardened criminals sat down to horticulture classes to establish a virtual cottage industry behind the razor-wire-topped walls of Maghaberry in Co Antrim and bring a wave of festive colour to local homes.

Others took up saws and paint brushes to equip a new cell block with furniture, while hanging baskets and window boxes were produced during the summer season.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) said: "Giving people in custody training to gain employment and play a positive role after release will help to make Northern Ireland safer."

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