Pressure mounts for immediate halt to prison building

The Guardian has today published a letter from the Reclaim Justice Network calling for an immediate halt to the government’s prison building programme. The statement, organised by the Network, has amassed more than fifty signatories from service delivery organisations, professionals, activists and academics.The letter printed in The Guardian can be read below.

Wednesday’s opposition day debate on prisons served to highlight the ongoing crisis in the system. At the same time, the government’s “prison-building revolution” is gathering pace, with plans to expand prison capacity by at least 10,000 places. This appears to be a revival of the “Titan prisons” policy opposed by penal reformers and mothballed in 2009. It should be halted immediately. For example, the new prison recently proposed for the site of HMP Wellingborough will more than treble its capacity to 1,600 and grand claims have been made about the opportunities that this will bring in terms of local jobs and financial investment. These plans are being rushed through without full public scrutiny and democratic debate.

The numbers of people criminalised and sent to prison have already spiralled out of control to a record high. Yet prisons do very little to address the needs of people experiencing harm or violence. Building more prisons is not the answer to the current acknowledged failings of the existing system. Rather than investing £1.3bn in building new prisons, the government should be prioritising policies that radically reduce the number of people in prison. This could include meaningful jobs, social housing, healthcare, education, transport – for all.

We are calling for an immediate moratorium on prison construction and a national debate about how to build a safer society and secure communities instead of continuing with a failed policy of criminal justice expansion. We need to build safe and healthy communities – not prisons.

Tom Kemp Reclaim Justice Network Professor Peter Squires British Society of Criminology Will McMahon Centre for Crime and Justice Studies Deborah Coles Inquest Andy Gregg Race on the Agenda Dr David Scott Open University Kate Paradine Women in Prison Jan Cunliffe Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association Jodie Blackstock Justice Dionne Nelson Women’s Resource Centre Chryssy Hunter Bent Bars Project Kevin Blowe Network for Police Monitoring Professor Phil Scraton Dr Sarah Lamble Birkbeck University Professor Pat Carlen Gina Stokes Anawim WWT Professor Joe Sim Pazuzu Gaylord Action for Trans Health Ian Marder Community of Restorative Researchers Margaret Gardener False Allegations Support Organisation Dennis Eady South Wales against Wrongful Conviction Kushal Sood Trent Centre for Human Rights Annys Darkwa Vision Housing Services Gerry McFlynn Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas

The full list of people who have offered their name and/or organisation in support of the call for a prison moratorium is below (last updated 03/02/2017).

Nathan Roberts abandofbrothers
Pazuzu Gaylord Action for Trans Health
Gina Stokes Anawim WWT
Chryssy Hunter Bent Bars Project
Peter Squires British Society for Criminology
Will McMahon Centre for Crime and Justice Studies
Heledd Williams Community Action on Prison Expansion
Ian Marder Community of Restorative Researchers
Sham Qayyum Council for Somalia Organisation
Margaret Gardener FASO (UK)
Deborah Coles INQUEST
Gerry McFlynn Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas
Jan Cunliffe JENGbA
Jodie Blackstock JUSTICE
Kevin Blowe Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol)
Carl van Tonder No Prisons Manchester
Andy Gregg Race on the Agenda
Reclaim Holloway Reclaim Holloway
Tom Kemp Reclaim Justice Network
Phil Faber SAFARI
Dennis Eady South Wales against Wrongful Conviction
Kushal Sood Trent Centre for Human Rights
Annys Darkwa Vision Housing Services
Kate Paradine Women in Prison
Dionne Nelson Womens Resource Centre
Zack Ahmed
Priscilla Alderson
HELEN BAKER
Alana Barton
Jessica Bolton
Mary Bosworth
Louise Broadbent
Pat Carlen
Laura Carrington
Bevali Carver
Kathryn Chadwick
Mary Corcoran
Julie Costley
Geoffrey Curl
Julie Davies
Claire Davis
Anita De Klerk
Helen Elfleet
Karen Evans
Finola Farrant
Barry Goldson
Andrew Henley
Kate Herrity
Anita Hobson
Hope Humphreys
Lisa Ja’afar
David Jones
Terese Jonsson
Stephanie Kewley
Sarah Lamble
Sophie Lewis
Martine Lignon
Jayne Linney
Maureen Mansfield
Agnieszka Martynowicz
Tammy McGloughlin
Gillian McNaull
J M Moore
A Odeyemi
Alexandra Phillips
Hannah Pittaway
Dr Judy Price
Nat Raha
Rebecca Roberts
Abigail Rowe
Phil Scraton
Rachel Seoighe
Professor Joe Sim
Andrew Sperling
Abigail Stark
Alison Stevenson
Philippa Thomas
Steve Tombs
Rona Topaz
Luk Vervaet
Martin Wright

 

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