Baroness Corston (born Jean Ann Parkin, in 1942, in Hull) was made a life peer in 2005. Her trajectory was highly unusual. Her early life was dominated by poverty, family disruption and socialism. She left school, of necessity, to work aged 16. In her late 20s she took an A level and then studied at the Open University. Her formal education did not peak until she came to the LSE in 1986 as a 44 year old student, recruited by David Schiff. Her desire to study law arose from the police treatment of Kent Miners during the Miners’ strike in 1984-5. She went on to qualify as practising barrister.
Married twice with two children, on the second occasion to the sociologist Peter Townsend until his death in 2009, Baroness Corston had a parallel career in the Labour Party. She became the Labour MP for Bristol East (1992-2005) and was the first female Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party (2001-2005). She is most famous for The Corston Report : A review of women with particular vulnerabilities in the Criminal Justice System (2007) , which advocated a distinct, woman-centred, integrated approach to the field. The Report has been widely applauded; but many of its 43 recommendations, largely accepted by Government, remain aspirational. She continues to work actively for reform and is Patron of the charity Women in Prison.