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).
|Pazuzu||Gaylord||Action for Trans Health|
|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|
|Gerry||McFlynn||Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas|
|Kevin||Blowe||Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol)|
|Carl||van Tonder||No Prisons Manchester|
|Andy||Gregg||Race on the Agenda|
|Tom||Kemp||Reclaim Justice Network|
|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|