A MOTHER whose daughter died of an apparent drug overdose in prison has given a speech at the Liberal Democrat conference pleading for changes in the system.
Pauline Campbell's daughter Sarah, 18, died just hours after arriving at Styal women's prison in Cheshire in January 2003.
Mrs Campbell has since become a leading campaigner for prison reform.
She told the party's spring conference in Southport that most women in prison were not a threat to society, and urged "clear and sustained political leadership" to bring about alternatives.
She said: "Six out of seven women in prison have been sentenced for a non-violent event. Do they really need to be in prison? Are they a threat to society? And can we afford to send these women to prison, when it costs about £36,000 to keep one person in prison a year.
"The answer is no, they don't need to be in prison, they are not a threat to society, and the British taxpayer should not be expected to finance this unnecessary incarceration of women."
Sarah Campbell was convicted of killing a Saltney pensioner in Chester and sent to Styal prison.
On January 18, 2003, she apparently told a prison officer that she had taken a quantity of prescription drugs, and asked for help. She was eventually taken to a Manchester hospital, where she died later that evening.
Her death was the third of six at the prison within the space of a year, but only one inquest has taken place.