The Government is scrapping the idea of building 3 new ‘Titan’ prisons with an inmate population of 2500 each and instead building five new prisons of 1500 each with cost running into billions. So far since 1997 prisoner numbers have increased by 24,000 and are expected to reach a total of 96,000 by 2014.
Apart from the USA no other country imprisons a higher percentage of it’s population than the UK. What a shameful record and what a disgraceful waste of money given that 80% of ex prisoners re-offend. Quite obviously prison does not work, so why spend even more on a failed system? Why not spend the money on crime prevention and rehabilitation of offenders? It’s easy to say we’re going to lock up more people than the opposition party but it takes courage and leadership to say that our aim is to reduce imprisonment.
A start could be made by moving the mentally ill into a caring and supportive environment and drug addicts could be moved to treatment centres and given appropriate support within the community. Better still de-criminalise drugs and just watch the crime rate plummet. Many people are in prison for non payment of court fines or could not obey an order to pay for their TV licence for example, surely a better way would be a community service order and help on how to survive on meagre state benefits. Even better would be an increase in those benefits and perhaps a ‘benefit standing order to pay for the licence weekly.
Prison only serves as a university in crime and upon release it can be of no surprise that the ‘graduates’ put their new found skills to practicle use.